Toponyms are common words that originate from the names of places or regions. [1]


  • angora goat, angora rabbit, angora cat: These words come from Angora, variant or former name of "Ankara" - their place of origin.
  • bedford cord: A heavy fabric with a ribbed weave similar to corduroy; named after either Bedford, England or possibly New Bedford, Massachusetts.
  • bedlam: This means uproar or pandemonium after popular name/pronunciation of St. Maryl of Bethlehem, London's first psychiatric hospital. [2]
  • bikini: A two-piece bathing suit for women, after Bikini Atoll in the Marshall Islands (where atomic bombs were tested in 1946; supposedly analogous to the "explosive" effect on the male libido).*
  • bronx cheer:A noise made by the mouth to signify derision; after The Bronx, a borough of New York City
  • canary: a small yellow bird, originating on and named after the Canary Islands
  • caucasian: name for the "white race", coined by anthropologist Johann Blumenbach after Caucasus Mountains, their supposed ancestral homeland.
  • coach: a type of carriage, ultimately from Hungarian kocsi (szekér) or "carriage of Kocs", where this vehicle was first made.
  • denim — a coarse cotton fabric, from French serge de Nîmes, or "serge of Nîmes", where the cloth originated.
  • dollar — a unit of currency, originally from the [[German language|German taler, an abbreviation of Joachimstaler ("gulden of Joachimstal"), a coin minted (1519) from silver mined near Joachimsthal, Bohemia
  • donnybrook — colloquial term for a brawl or fracas, derived from Donnybrook Fair, an annual horse fair in the Dublin suburb notorious for fighting and drunkenness.
  • Glasgow kiss, a slang term meaning headbutt — Glasgow, Scotland
  • Gypsies, nomadic peoples in Europe and United States — Egypt
  • Havana, cigar — from capital of Cuba
  • Jeans, denim trousers; Genoa.
  • Labyrinth, maze, after a legendary structure on Crete
  • Lesbian, female homosexual — Lesbos, island in Greece
  • Magenta, colour — named after Magenta, Italy
  • Marathon, long race — Marathon, Greece, town
  • Olympics, worldwide games — Mount Olympus, tallest mountain in Greece
  • Rhode Island Red — Chicken named after Rhode Island
  • Rugby footballRugby School, in Rugby, Warwickshire, central England
  • Siamese twins, conjoined twins — Siam, old name for Thailand
  • Spa, place having water with health-giving properties — Spa, a municipality in Belgium
  • Trojan horse, malicious computer virus — Trojan Horse, of Troy, from the Iliad






Etymological processes

        Word creation

                Eponyms · Toponyms · Onomatopoeia · Reduplication · Blend · Back-formation

        Word evolution

                Phonological: Assimilation · Dissimilation · Metathesis

                Morphological: Folk etymology

                Semantic: Semantic widening · Semantic narrowing · Elevation · Degeneration · Metaphorical extension

Languages which have influenced English

        Latin · Greek · French · German · Spanish · Arabic · Old Norse · Proto-Indo-European

Special topics

        Shakespeare's impact on English · Origin and evolution of the alphabet