La palabra Koala viene del Dharuk (idioma casi extinto de los aborígenes australianos) “gula”. Originalmente en inglés se escribía “koolah” o “coola” pero fue cambiada a “oa” posiblemente por error. Otro error es que se pensaba que, por su similitud, eran osos pero no es así.
The word koala comes from the Dharuk gula. Although the vowel /u/ was originally written in the English orthography as “oo” (in spellings such as coola or koolah), it was changed to “oa” possibly due to an error. The word is erroneously said to mean “doesn’t drink”.
The scientific name of the koala’s genus, Phascolarctos, is derived from Greek phaskolos “pouch” and arktos “bear”. Its species name,cinereus, is Latin and means “ash-coloured”.
Although the koala is not a bear, English-speaking settlers from the late 18th century first called it koala bear due to its similarity in appearance to bears. Although taxonomically incorrect, the name koala bear is still in use today outside Australia – its use is discouraged because of the inaccuracy in the name. Other descriptive English names based on “bear” have included monkey bear, native bear, and tree-bear.