Borussia Mönchengladbach and Borussia Dortmund included the word "Borussia" in their name under very different circumstances. - © /
Borussia Mönchengladbach and Borussia Dortmund included the word "Borussia" in their name under very different circumstances. - © /

What does 'Borussia' mean? Dortmund's and Mönchengladbach's name explained


Two of Germany’s biggest and best-known clubs, Dortmund and Mönchengladbach, have it in their name, but what does 'Borussia' mean?

A little history

Borussia is the Latin word for Prussia, a former European state that comprised much of what today is Germany, Poland, Lithuania and Russia.

With its capital city in Berlin, Prussia was a major European power in the 18th and 19th centuries, and its military might was the driving force behind the unification of the various Germanic states in 1871 and the establishment of Germany as we (more or less) know it today.

As a unified Germany became an increasingly industrialised nation and more powerful player on the international scene, nationalism grew, and was a factor in a number of German clubs, such as Dortmund and Gladbach, but also Neunkirchen and Fulda among others, having Borussia in their name.

Dortmund, founded in 1909 in a local bar, have since become one of the most famous clubs in world football. - Bongarts/Getty Images

Founding Borussia Dortmund

The Borussia in Borussia Dortmund had less to do with patriotism than convenience, though.

In 1909, a group of local young men, unhappy with playing football under the strict eye of the local priest, decided to form their own club in protest. They met at 60 Oesterholzstrasse, then a bar by the name of Zum Wildschutz, but since the meet-up was rather spontaneous and unprepared, the name Borussia was suggested simply because there was a Borussia-Brauerei sign on the wall, the Borussia Brewery being situated just a short distance from the bar.

Mönchengladbach's Borussia-Park bears its historic name proudly. - Christof Koepsel/Getty Images

Founding Borussia Mönchengladbach

Borussia Mönchengladbach had been formed in 1900 when a group of young men had assembled at the restaurant Anton Schmitz in the Eicken district of Mönchengladbach. In this case, patriotism was a stronger motivation and Borussia was added to the name since the city of Mönchengladbach was formerly part of the old kingdom of Prussia.

Who are the true 'Borussen'?

You might also hear fans of each side labelled “Borussen”.  Just who are the true Borussen is a point of contention among the two sets of supporters – Gladbach arguably have more of a claim to the title since their club’s formation pre-dates BVB's by nine years – but what is certain is the proud place both of them hold in Germany’s football history.