Toponymy, or the study of place names, can provide fascinating insight into history, language and the thinking of the people of a particular region, country or hamlet.

To quote from Wikipedia: In 1954 F. M. Powicke said of place-name study that it “uses, enriches and tests the discoveries of archaeology and history and the rules of the philologists”. Toponyms not only illustrate ethnic settlement patterns, but they can also help identify discrete periods of immigration.”

That being said, one has to wonder what is being said by the names of these places, or whether all the good names were already taken.

IT IS WHAT IT IS — Arkansas is full of places with lovely poetic names such as Morning Star and Evening Shade. This body of water running under U.S. 165 in Lonoke County was not so graciously endowed.
IT IS WHAT IT IS II — The Big Dam Bridge is a pedestrian bridge that rises over the Murray Lock and Dam on the Arkansas River in Little Rock. The bridge has been enormously popular with walkers and bikers since it opened in 2006. The fact that its name is in quotation marks on its official marker makes me wonder if there was thought given to the name evolving at some point in the future. (Photo courtesy Transportation Enhancements Image Library.)

10 thoughts on “All the good names were taken

  1. My fantasy job would be road namer; checking out the history and consigning the bland to the bin. Here, we have a surfeit of roads named after poets, especially the rimatics, in places they never visited. I long for Dinosaur Tooth Avenue, Laundry Steamworks Road. Names which tell you something about the history or discoveries of an area.

  2. Douglas Adams, of “Hitch Hikers Guide to The Galaxy” fame, wrote a book on this subject, ” The Meaning of Liff”. I no longer have a copy, but remember it was very funny.

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