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The Book of English Place Names

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Do you have problems finding convincing names for towns and villages in which your fiction is set? The best plan is to invent a name using the place-name elements, many of them from Old English, on which most British place names are based. And The Book of English Place Names is an excellent source for exploring place name construction.

Think how many place names end in ham, cot, field, stow, hurst, or ing. Each of these name elements has a meaning which may well be appropriate for your fictional place name to have a given meaning. Take stow, for example; it cam mean a meeting point, often a holy place. So Padstow derives from St Petroc, and Felixstowe (not surprisingly) from St Felix.

Get into this and you will even find it fun: you will find, for example, that Gosport means ‘goose town’ and that Gateshead is not based on gates but on goats. Fun for both name-seekers and wordsmiths.

 

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