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A combe (/km/; also spelled coombe or coomb and, in place names, comb) can refer either to a steep, narrow valley, or to a small valley or large hollow on the side of a hill;[1][2] in any case, it is often understood[by whom?] simply to mean a small valley through which a watercourse does not run.[3][4] The word "combe" derives from Old English cumb, of the same meaning, and is unrelated to the English word "comb".[5] It derives ultimately from the same Brythonic source as the Welsh cwm, which has the same meaning.[citation needed] Today, the word is used mostly in reference to the combes of southern[6] and southwestern England, of Wales, and of County Kerry in Ireland.[citation needed]


The following is a list places in the British Isles named for having combes:

Higher Melcombe


  1. ^ "Combe". Merriam–Webster's Dictionary. Merriam–Webster. 2011.
  2. ^ "Coomb". Webster's New World College Dictionary. Cleveland, Ohio: Wiley Publishing, Inc. 2010.
  3. ^ "Combe". Encarta World English Dictionary: North American Edition. Bloomsbury Publishing Plc. 2009.[permanent dead link]
  4. ^ "Coomb". Collins Pocket English Dictionary. HarperCollins Publishers Ltd. 2010. Archived from the original on 2011-10-18.
  5. ^ "Comb". Century Dictionary.
  6. ^ "Coombe". Compact Oxford English Dictionary. Oxford University Press. 2010. A short valley or hollow on a hillside or coastline, especially in southern England.