The Sami are often known in other languages as "Lap", "Lapp", or "Laplanders", but many Sami regard these as pejorative terms. Variants of the name "Lapp" were originally used in Norway, Sweden and Finland, and from there were adopted by all major European languages (English: Lapps, German, Dutch: Lappen, Russian, Ukrainian: Loparie, French: Lapons, Greek: Λάπωνες (Lápōnes), Italian: Lapponi, Polish: Lapończycy, Spanish: Lapones, Portuguese: Lapőes).
The exact meaning of this old term, and the reasons it came into common usage, are unknown; however in Scandinavian languages lapp means a patch of cloth for mending, which may be a description of the clothing, called a gakti, that the Sámi wear. Such 'patches' (i.e."lapp") can refer to something old and to be discarded – an epithet that would have been applied to the Sami culture itself. Another possible source is the Finnish word lape, which in this case means 'periphery'. Originally it meant any person living from the wilderness, not only the Sámi people. It is unknown how the word Lapp came into the Norse language, but it seems to have been introduced by the Danish historian Saxo Grammaticus to distinguish between Fish-Fennians (coastal tribes) and Lap-Fennians (forest tribes), supporting the second etymology. It was popularized and became the standard terminology by the work of Johannes Schefferus, Acta Lapponica (1673), but was also used earlier by Olaus Magnus in his Description of the Northern peoples (1555). There is another suggestion that it originally meant wilds. An alternative interpretation made by Damiăo de Góis in 1540 derives Lapland from “the dumb and lazy land”, because the land where no vegetables grow is lazy and does not speak. In any event, the term "lapp" is considered derogatory to most Sami.'