The first mention of the city under the name of “Karul” dates from 1320, and as “Károly” in 1325, however, the city is known to have existed since 1264, as it was the domain of the Kaplony clan and the center of the Károlyi family’s personal domain that settled in the region shortly after the arrival of the Hungarians. The name of the city comes from the word “karul” (in modern Hungarian “karvaly”). The etymology of the word can be traced back to the ancient Turkish language, the word meaning sparrow. Another theory is that the city was named after the Károlyi family.
King Louis I of Hungary permitted the organization of weekly market gatherings on Saturdays in Carei in 1346, as a result of the military achievements of the Károlyi family. The development of regional trade in the region stimulated the development of the town, and in 1387, King Sigismund elevates the town to county center, while also granting it independent jurisdiction.