The ancient names for the mountain are Devgiri ( for "Holy Mountain") and Devadurga (the English pronounced it deodungha in the 1800s).. In it is known as Sagarmatha , meaning "Head of the Sky". The name is Chomolungma or Qomolangma , meaning "Mother of the Universe"), and the related name is Zhыmщlngm Fзng (: Ћм–s : Ћм–s or Shиngm Fзng (: ?•к•ф; : ђ№•к•ф).
In , the mountain was given its name by , the . With both Nepal and closed to foreign travel, he wrote:
I was taught by my respected chief and predecessor, Colonel Sir to assign to every geographical object its true local or native appellation. But here is a mountain, most probably the highest in the world, without any local name that we can discover, whose native appellation, if it has any, will not very likely be ascertained before we are allowed to penetrate into Nepal. In the meantime the privilege as well as the duty devolves on me to assign…a name whereby it may be known among citizens and geographers and become a household word among civilized nations.
Waugh chose to name the mountain after , first using the spelling Mont Everest, and then Mount Everest. However, the modern pronunciation of Everest: is in fact different from Sir George's own pronunciation of his surname, which was(EAVE-rest).
In the early 1960s, the realized that Mount Everest had no name. This was because the mountain was not known and named in ethnic Nepal (that is, the and surrounding areas). The government set out to find a name for the mountain (the /Tibetan name Chomolangma was not acceptable, as it would have been against the idea of unification (Nepalization) of the country. The name Sagarmatha was thus invented by .
In 2002, the Chinese newspaper published an article making a case against the continued use of the English name for the mountain in the , insisting that it should be referred to by its Tibetan name. The newspaper argued that the Chinese name preceded the English one, as Mount Qomolangma was marked on a Chinese map more than 280 years ago.
Aerial view of Mount Everest from the south
Another aerial view of Mount Everest from the south
, an Indian mathematician and surveyor from , was the first to identify Everest as the world's highest peak in 1852, using calculations based on measurements of "Peak XV" (as it was then known) made with from 240(150 miles) away in India. Measurement could not be made from closer due to a lack of access to Nepal. "Peak XV" was found to be exactly 29,000(8,839high, but was publicly declared to be 29,002et (8,840 m). The arbitrary addition of 2(0.6was to avoid the impression that an exact height of 29,000was nothing more than a rounded estimate.
More recently, the mountain has been found to be 8,848(29,028 ) high, although there is some variation in the measurements. The mountain comes in second at 8,611(28,251high. On , , the People's Republic of China's Everest Expedition Team ascended to the top of the mountain. After several months' complicated measurement and calculation, on , , the PRC's State Bureau of Surveying and Mapping officially announced the height of Everest as 8,844.43 m ± 0.21 m (29,017.16 ± 0.69 ). They claimed it was the most accurate measurement to date. But this new height is based on the actual highest point of rock and not on the snow and ice that sits on top of that rock on the summit, so, in keeping with the practice used on and , it is not shown here. The Chinese also measured a snow/ice depth of 3.5 which implies agreement with a net elevation of 8,848 m. But in reality the snow and ice thickness varies, making a definitive height of the snow cap, and hence the precise height attained by summiteers without sophisticated GPS, impossible to determine.
The elevation of 8,848(29,028was first determined by an Indian survey in 1955, made closer to the mountain, also using . It was subsequently reaffirmed by a 1975 Chinese measurement. In both cases the snow cap, not the rock head, was measured.