The word can be found in northern England in placenames such as: Redbourne, Legbourne, but is commonly in used in southern England (particularly Dorset) as a name for a small river, particularly in compound names such as winterbourne. A winterbourne is a stream or river that is dry through the summer months.
Bourne is used as a place name or as a part of a place name, usually in chalk downland countryside. Alternative forms are bourn or borne or born. The apparent variant, borne found in the placename: Camborne, arises from the Cornish language and is in fact a false friend: it refers to a hill (Cornish: bronn, from Common Brythonic *brunda; compare Irish bruinn). Born/borne in German also means fount, or spring, and is related to the Indo-European root, *bhreu. That born/borne appears throughout Europe as a placename is also an important clue that this spelling is an etymological precursor to the Middle English bourne/burn.
Cf. Burn (landform), in common use in Scotland and North East England especially, but also found (in placenames) elsewhere in England such as: Blackburn, Gisburn, Woburn, Kilburn, Tyburn, Winkburn, and so forth.
For rivers and places named Bourne or having this word as part of the name, see Bourne (disambiguation).