When the government decided to declare a townsite here in 1894, the place was locally known as "Hannan's Find", and at first the name "Hannans" was nominated for the townsite. In suggesting the name Hannans to the Commissioner of Crown Lands, the Under Secretary for Lands, R Cecil Clifton, noted that the "native name of the place is "Calgoorlie" but this is rather too much like Coolgardie and if adopted is, I fear likely to lead to postal mistakes". R Cecil Clifton supported "Hannan", but Cabinet chose "Kalgoorlie" in August 1894. Although local preference was for Hannan's Find, Kalgoorlie soon came to be accepted as the name of the rapidly developing town. An alternative spelling of "Kalgurli" was also used unofficially on occasions.
Just when the name Kalgoorlie was first recorded and the precise meaning of the name is unknown. Various sources give it as either meaning: Aboriginal dog chasing a kangaroo; the Aboriginal name of a shrub from the area ("Galgurli");or the Aboriginal name for the local edible silky pear ("Kulgooluh").