Humanities › English Understanding "Toponyms" Share Flipboard Email Print Ditto/Getty Images English English Grammar An Introduction to Punctuation Writing By Richard Nordquist English and Rhetoric Professor Ph.D., Rhetoric and English, University of Georgia M.A., Modern English and American Literature, University of Leicester B.A., English, State University of New York Dr. Richard Nordquist is professor emeritus of rhetoric and English at Georgia Southern University and the author of several university-level grammar and composition textbooks. our editorial process Richard Nordquist Updated October 14, 2019 A toponym is a place name or a word coined in association with the name of a place. Adjectives: toponymic and toponymous. The study of such place-names is known as toponymics or toponymy—a branch of onomastics. Types of toponym include agronym (the name of a field or pasture), dromonym (the name of a transportation route), drymonym (the name of a forest or grove), econym (the name of a village or town), limnonym (the name of a lake or pond), and necronym (the name of a cemetery or burial ground). EtymologyFrom the Greek, "place" + "name" Examples and Observations Craig Tomashoff: "Hooterville was Xanadu with pickup trucks, an odd yet comfortable land with an irresistible charm." Albert C. Baugh and Thomas Cable: "When we find more than 600 places like Grimsby, Whitby, Derby, Rugby, and Thoresby, with names ending in -ly, nearly all of them in the district occupied by the Danes, we have striking evidence of the number of Danes who settled in England." John B. Marciano: "Englishmen have pretty much considered anyone they've come into contact with as being lazy, poor, cowardly, untrustworthy, thieving, and of substandard morality, a mind-set of superiority reflected in a litany of set phrases in the language. . . .Surprisingly, those who got the worst of English abuse were the Dutch. Most expressions we now use concerning the people of Holland are harmless, such as Dutch door, double Dutch, and Dutch oven, but previously, terms containing Dutch were the idiomatic equivalent of a Polack joke. A bookie who loses money is a Dutch book; Dutch courage is inspired only by booze; if you're in Dutch, you're in prison, or pregnant; and a Dutch widow is a prostitute. Still in wide use is to go Dutch, which describes an action--not paying for your date--that languages around the rest of the globe call to go American." Gerald R. Pitzl: "Thousands of toponyms in the United States and Canada derive from American Indian words. One is Chanhassen, a Twin Cities suburb in Minnesota. In the Sioux language, this word refers to the sugar maple tree. The place name translates to 'the tree with sweet juice.' Sometimes the reference is not so pleasant. Stinkingwater Peak, Wyoming, takes its unflattering name from a nearby river." William C. McCormack and Stephen A. Wurm: "In Algonquian, the forms linked together in a toponym are descriptive as in Mohican missi-tuk 'big river,' and the toponym as a whole is used to identify a particular place [that is, Mississippi]." Dale D. Johnson, Bonnie von Hoff Johnson, and Kathleen Schlichting: "Magenta is a reddish-pink color, and it is a toponym. The rather upbeat color is named after a downbeat scene--the blood-soaked battlefield at the Battle of Magenta in Italy in 1859 (Freeman, 1997). Other toponyms include duffel bag (Duffel, Belgium), sardines (the island of Sardinia), and paisley (Paisley, Scotland)." Charles H. Elster: "Words that you might not suspect were toponyms include tuxedo (Tuxedo Park, New York), marathon (from the battle of Marathon, Greece . . .), spartan (from Sparta in ancient Greece), bikini (an atoll in the Pacific where the atomic and hydrogen bombs were tested), [and] lyceum (a gymnasium near Athens where Aristotle taught) . . .."