Shallots probably originated in Central or Southeast Asia, travelling from there to India and the eastern Mediterranean. The name "shallot" comes from Ashkelon, an ancient Philistine city, where people in classical Greek times believed shallots originated.
Indian names for shallots include kanda or gandana or pyaaz (Hindi, Marathi, Marwari and Punjabi), gundhun (Bengali), cheriya ulli or chuvanna ulli (Malayalam) and chinna vengayam (or sambar vengayam in the Chennai region) (Tamil)In Kashmiri language Shallots are called "Praan". In Nepal, shallots are called chyapi (छ्यापी).
In Southeastern Asia, shallots are called bawang merah kecil (small red onions) in Malay, brambang in Java, and hom (หอม, fragrant) in Thai. In Cambodian (Khmer), shallots are called katem kror hom, where katem or ktem is a species of onion, and kror hom or hom meaning "red", describes their colour.
The name "shallot" is also used for the Persian shallot (A. stipitatum), from the Zagros Mountains in Iran and Iraq. The term "shallot" is further used for the French gray shallot or griselle (Allium oschaninii), a species which has been considered to be the "true shallot" by many; it grows wild from Central to Southwest Asia. In Australia, the term "shallot" can also refer to scallions (from various species of Allium), while the term "eschalot," derived from the French word "échalote," can also be used to refer to the shallot described in this article.