||In contemporary Western academic publications, the name ‘Tangut’ refers almost exclusively to the dominant ethnic group of a so-called ‘conquest dynasty’, best known by its Chinese name, the Xixia 西夏 (‘Western Xia’; 1038-1227). However, the name has had different connotations for our medieval and early modern forebears, which might prompt the question: What did medieval and early modern Europeans mean when they used the name ‘Tangut’? Given its present-day use, a corollary question ought to be: Did medieval and early modern Europeans have a similar understanding, or concept, of the Xixia Tanguts as we do today? It is this thesis’s main contention that the name ‘Tangut’ and the early understanding of this name in Europe stems from the same source as our current conception, that is, a Mongolian ethnonym cum toponym. Yet, in Europe it was long understood as mostly a toponym and it was not clearly connected to the concept of the Xixia Tanguts. Indeed, it will be argued that the Tanguts of the Xia are, albeit surprisingly, largely absent in early European descriptions of Chinese and Mongol history, compared to other ethno-historical references in European sources.