Why is Filipino spelled with an F? Philippines is spelled with a Ph. Some have said that it's because in Filipino, Philippines starts with F; but if this is so, why did we only change the beginning of Philippines?

  • Probably a "given" but "filipino"=masculine and "filipina"=feminine similar to Spanish. – user74219 May 6 '14 at 10:49

As this article in the Spanish Wikipedia notes:

El vocablo «Filipinas» deriva del nombre del rey Felipe II de España.

The Philippines were named for King Philip II of Spain. They were «Las Islas Filipinas», which was anglicized to the Philippine Islands.

The noun form retains the F (Filipino), while the adjective form uses Ph (Philippine Embassy).

(I've seen older texts in British English that referred to the natives as "Philippinos.")

As to why, there's this answer:

English never had a suitable equivalent for Filipino – a “Philippine,” “Philippian” or “Philippinian” probably just didn’t sound right, so English adopted the Spanish word Filipino, retaining the letter F and the suffix, “ino."

It's interesting to note that the country's official appellation in Pilipino is Repúblika ng Pilipinas. The Pilipino Express article explains that as well.

Edit: Slate has another take on Filipino/Philippines, but still doesn't explain the discrepancy in spelling between the noun and adjective forms.

|improve this answer|||||
  • Good explanation, but it begs the question: Why the inconsistency in how the noun/adjective forms were anglicized? Luck of the draw, or was there an actual reason? – Lynn Nov 21 '11 at 23:59
  • I expanded my answer to try to explain that as well. – Gnawme Nov 22 '11 at 0:02
  • @Lynn: I suspect that someone preferred the look of Philippine to Filipine. – Gnawme Nov 22 '11 at 0:19
  • I guess that it's "Philippine/s" and not "Filipine/s" because Felipe in English is Philip, not Filip. – DVX Feb 4 at 7:55