A clash of names: the terminological morass of a toponym class

Jan Tent*, David Blair

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


There are place names all around the world formed by a combination of two elements, a specific and a generic, both of which refer to the same geographic feature type. A typical pattern is for an indigenous generic functioning as a specific to precede a matching introduced generic. For example: Ohio River < Iroquoian Ohio “Great River” + River; and Lake Rotorua < Māori roto “lake” + rua “two/second” (“Second Lake”) + Lake. Such toponyms, though not overall numerous, nevertheless occur often enough to warrant being recognized as a distinct class of place names. The literature provides no adequate or consistent term for this pattern: the various attempts clash with each other, and all fail to address the concept effectively. This article aims to address this situation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)65-77
Number of pages13
Issue number2
Early online date18 Apr 2018
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • tautological (place) names
  • tautonyms
  • reduplicated names
  • bilingual place names
  • epexegesis
  • macaronic duplex toponym

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