English exonyms

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An English exonym is a name in the English language for a place (a toponym), or occasionally other terms, which does not follow the local usage (the endonym). Exonyms and endonyms are features of all languages and other languages may have their own exonym for the English endonym, for example Llundain is the Welsh exonym for the English endonym "London".

An English exonym is typically a place name given by an English-speaking linguistic community to a topographic feature situated in a territory where English has no official status. British English traditionally uses the term "conventional name", but the more internationally accepted term is "exonym".[1]

"For a toponym to be defined as an exonym, there must exist a minimum degree of difference between it and the corresponding endonym. ... Ĉkalovsk is not an exonym of the Russian city Чкаловск but simply the endonym written in a different script. The omission of diacritical marks usually does not turn an endonym into an exonym: Sao Paulo (for São Paulo); Malaga (for Málaga) or Amman (for 'Ammān) are not considered exonyms. However, in certain languages, diacritics enable names that are otherwise identical to be distinguished; in such cases, the omission of these diacritics could be regarded as generating exonyms. Thus, in Slovakia, Rovné and Rovne are different places, as are Brezany and Brežany. This is the reason for the broad definition of the term "exonym" in the Glossary." - United Nations Manual for the National Standardization of Geographical Names 2006

A less common form of exonym is usage for names and titles. Personal exonyms are typically limited to regnal names such as popes (John Paul II) or monarchs (Charles V); less commonly very well known non-modern authors (John Calvin, for French Jean Calvin) are referred to by exonyms.

Romanization, or transcription of a non-Latin alphabet endonym into a Latin alphabet, is not generally regarded as creating exonyms; "The application of any scientifically sound romanization system to a non-Roman endonym merely re-creates that original endonym in another legitimate form" (Päll, 2002).[2][3] However old romanization systems, particularly pre-independence colonial-era romanization systems may leave a legacy of "familiar" spellings, as in the case of, for example, romanization of Burmese.[4] This affects romanization of Arabic, romanization of Chinese, and many other non-Latin alphabet place names.


For convenience a non-exhaustive summary list of English exonyms is included below. Note that the list includes both current and historic exonyms. In many cases, modern English-language sources no longer use the traditional English spelling, or do so only in historical contexts. See the article on each individual place name for information on its usage.

The list includes more detailed and complete breakout lists for:

The list does not include the list of English translated personal names.



  • Tiranë : Tirana (not a true exonym, as Tirana is also the Albanian endonym for the city name with an indefinite article)


الجزاٮُر (Al-Jazā'ir)

  • Al-Jazā'ir (الجزاٮُر) : Algiers


Հայաստան (Hayastan)

  • Erevan (Երևան or Երեւան) : Yerevan


  • Uluru : Ayers Rock
  • Parramatta : (used only in a historical context) Rose Hill




Azərbaycan - using Turkish-based Azerbaijani alphabet since 1991


België / Belgique

Historically, English borrowed French names for many places in Dutch-speaking areas of Belgium. With few exceptions this practice is no longer followed by most sources.[7] French placenames in Dutch-speaking areas are marked by an asterisk (*).

  • Antwerpen/Anvers : Antwerp
  • Brugge/Bruges : Bruges*
  • Brussel/Bruxelles : Brussels
  • Gent/Gand : Ghent; historically also Gaunt
  • Ieper/Ypres : Ypres*
  • Kortrijk/Courtrai : historically Courtrai* or Courtray
  • Leuven/Louvain : historically Louvain*
  • Mechelen/Malines : historically Mechlin
  • Oostende/Ostende : Ostend
  • Vilvoorde/Vilvorde : historically Filford

Two main areas of Belgium:

Bosnia and Herzegovina[edit]

Bosna i Hercegovina (Босна и Херцеговина)


България (Balgariya)

  • Dobrudzha (Добруджа) : Southern Dobruja, Bulgarian section of former Dobruja region
  • Dunav (Дунав) : Danube
  • Plovdiv (Пловдив) : (used only in a historical context) Philippopolis
  • Rodopi (Родопи) : Rhodopes
  • Sofiya (София) : Sofia
  • Stara Planina (Стара Планина) : Balkan Mountains
  • Trakiya (Тракия) : Thrace


Bama / Myanma


Numerous places in the predominantly French speaking province of Quebec have historically had English exonyms; in most cases, the exonym was a straight translation of the place's French name, with only one major city which ever had an English exonym that was entirely different from its original French name. With a few exceptions, such as Quebec City, these exonyms are no longer widely used; in contemporary usage, English names for nearly all places in Quebec differ from the French names only in minor orthographic details, such as some writers using spaces instead of hyphens in a compound name such as Trois-Rivières, or not using diacritic marks in an accented name such as Montréal. As noted in the introduction, however, differences of this type are not deemed to turn an endonym into an exonym.

Exonyms are also commonly seen in regards to First Nations and Inuit peoples and communities; although government and media sources have evolved in recent years toward using these places' native endonyms, common usage may still favour the older exonyms.

Cape Verde[edit]

Cabo Verde

Central African Republic[edit]

Ködörösêse tî Bêafrîka / République centrafricaine


تشاد (Tšād) / Tchad

  • نجامينا (Nijāmīnā) / Ndjamena : N'Djamena



Some of the apparent "exonyms" for China are the result of change in romanization of Chinese to modern pinyin, for example the change from "Tientsin" to "Tianjin". Other apparent exonyms are the result of the English name being based on one of the other varieties of Chinese besides Mandarin. Certain names which may now be considered exonyms actually preserve older Mandarin pronunciations which have changed in the intervening centuries.


  • Beijing : (used only in a historical context) Peking; the "k" preserves the Mandarin pronunciation prior to sound changes which began in the mid-17th century[8][9]
  • Guangzhou : Canton, from the Portuguese pronunciation of the name of the province Guangdong in which the city Guangzhou is located[10]
  • Nanjing : (used only in a historical context) Nanking
  • Xiamen : (used only in a historical context) Amoy, from the local Min Nan pronunciation[11]
  • Chongqing : (used only in a historical context) Chungking
  • Shantou : (used only in a historical context) Swatow
  • Fuzhou : (used only in a historical context) Foochow
  • Shenyang : (used only in a historical context) Mukden or Mookden, used by geographers until 1945, from the Manchu language name[12]
  • Zhangjiakou : (used only in a historical context) Kalgan, from the Russian rendition of the Mongolian language name QalƔan[13]
  • Lüshun : (used only in a historical context) Port Arthur
  • Chang Jiang : Yangtze River
  • Cantonese Hoeng gong : Hong Kong
  • Cantonese Ou mun : Macau (matches Portuguese), historically also Macao
  • Northeast China / Dongbei : Manchuria[14]

Zhōnghuá Mínguó/ROC[edit]





Κύπρος (Kýpros) / Kıbrıs

Czech Republic[edit]

Česká republika (Česko)

Historically, English-language sources used German names for many places in what is now the Czech Republic. With few exceptions (such as the Elbe and Oder) this practice is no longer followed by most sources.[15] German placenames are marked by an asterisk (*).




مصر (Mişr)

  • Būr Sā'id (بور سعݐد) : Port Said
  • Al-Ğīzah (الجݐزة) : Giza
  • Al-Iskandariyya (الإسکندرݐة) : Alexandria
  • An-Nīl (النݐل) : Nile
  • Al-Qāhira (القاهرة) : Cairo
  • As-Suways (السوݐس) : Suez
  • Al-Uqşur (الاقصر) : Luxor



Faroe Islands[edit]

Føroyar / Færøerne



Occasionally Swedish-based Latin names are used for historical provinces. Many provinces have different Finnish and Swedish names (Finnish / Swedish):

Satakunta and Uusimaa (Finnish) and Åland (Swedish) are known with their own names in English.


Georgia (country)[edit]

საქართველო (Sakartvelo)

  • Kavkasioni (კავკასიონი) : Caucasus
  • Tbilisi (თბილისი) : (used only in a historical context) Tiflis



This list does not include German place names with ß such as Gießen, commonly written Giessen in English sources.


Ελλάδα (Elláda) or Ἑλλάς (Ellás)

  • Athina (Αθήνα) : Athens
  • Attiki (Αττική) : Attica
  • Dhodhekanisa (Δωδεκάνησα) : Dodecanese
  • Evvia (Εύβοια) : Euboea
  • Ikaria (Ικαρία) : Icaria
  • Ionia Nisia (Ιόνια Νησιά) : Ionian Islands
  • Ipeiros (Ήπειρος) : Epirus
  • Irakleio (Ηράκλειο) : Heraklion or Iraklion
  • Kríti (Κρήτη) : Crete
  • Kerkyra (Κέρκυρα) : Corfu
  • Korinthos (Κόρινθος) : Corinth
  • Kykladhes (Κυκλάδες) : Cyclades
  • Makedonía (Μακεδονία) : Macedonia
  • Mesologgi (Μεσολόγγι) : Missolonghi
  • Nafpaktos (Νάυπακτος) : Naupactus or, historically, Lepanto
  • Patrai (Πάτρα) : Patras
  • Peiraeas (Πειραιάς) : Piraeus
  • Peloponnisos (Πελοπόννησος) : Peloponnese
  • Pylos (Πύλος) : (used only in a historical context) Navarino
  • Rodhopi (Ροδόπη) : Rhodopes
  • Rodos (Ρόδος) : Rhodes
  • Samothraki (Σαμοθράκη) : Samothrace
  • Thessalia (Θεσσαλία) : Thessaly
  • Thessaloniki (Θεσσαλονίκη) : Thessalonica or, historically, Salonica
  • Thiva (Θήβα) : Thebes
  • Thraki (Θράκη) : Thrace
  • Viotía (Βοιωτία) : Boeotia
  • Zakynthos (Ζάκυνθος) : Zakynthos or Zante


Kalaallit Nunaat Several places have been known under their traditional Danish names, or a variant of them. Now Greenlandic are used. This list contains places where an English variant was used, often Danish without diacritical marks.

Holy See[edit]





  • Vestmannaeyjar : Westman Islands
  • Place (and personal) names containing the letters þ (thorn) and ð (eth) are often spelt with th and dh (and sometimes incorrectly with p and d) in English; whether this creates true exonyms is debatable



  • Bengaluru in Kannada language : still Bangalore in English
  • Chennai in Tamil language and now English :Traditionally Madras
  • Jaipur : (used only in a historical context) Jaypore
  • Kanpur : (used only in a historical context) Cawnpore
  • Kolkata in Bengali language : Traditionally Calcutta
  • Lakshadweep : (used only in a historical context) the Laccadive Islands
  • Mumbai in Marathi language and now English : Traditionally Bombay
  • Pune : (used only in a historical context) Poona
  • Shimla : (used only in a historical context) Simla
  • Varanasi : (used only in a historical context) Benares


اݐران (Iran)

  • Bushehr (بوشهر) : Bushire (old-fashioned)
  • Eşfahān (اصفهان) : Isfahan
  • Mashhad (مشهد) : Meshed
  • Tehran (تهران) : Teheran (regarded by some as historic; 'Tehran' is also often used)


العراق (Al-Irāq)

  • Dijla (دجله) : Tigris
  • Al-Furāt (الفرات) : Euphrates
  • Al-Mawşil (الموصل) : Mosul



The vast majority of placenames in Ireland are anglicisations, or phonetic renderings, of Irish language names. However, some names come directly from the English language. When the Irish Free State gained independence from the United Kingdom, some placenames were reverted to their Irish or anglicised forms. This includes:


יִשְֹרָאֵל (Yisrael)
The below listing is only a summary. Modern Israeli transcription systems (romanization of Hebrew) vary from the familiar spellings of many hundreds of place names of Ancient Israel adopted by Bible translations - both Christian, such as the King James Version (1611) and also Jewish versions such as the JPS (1917). For example, modern 'v' on road signs in Israel corresponds to 'w' or 'b' in traditional English naming.[20]

  • Akko (עַכּוֹ) : Acre (from Greek, pronunciation later anglicized to match the word "acre")
  • Be'er Sheva (בְּאֵר שֶׁבַע): Beersheba
  • Ha-Galil (הַגָּלִיל) : Galilee (from Latin)
  • Kfar Nahum (כְּפַר נֵחוּם) : Capernaum (from Latin)
  • Natzrat (נָצְרַת) : Nazareth (from Greek)
  • Tzfat (צְפַת) : Safed (from Arabic)
  • Tverya (טְבֶריָה) : Tiberias (from Latin)
  • Yafo (יָפוֹ) : Jaffa (from Arabic)
  • Yerushalayim (יְרוּשָׁלַיִם) : Jerusalem (from Latin)




日本 (Nihon / Nippon)


الاردن (Al-'Urdunn)


North and South Korea have different names for their own country, and each other. Romanization of Korean has also produced many name variations which are common in English, but simply variations in romanization systems. For example, Cheju Island is an older romanization of Jeju Province. In some cases the older romanizations have been retained in English sources. Some even older names, not now retained in English, are the result of Japanese pronunciation of Korean names during the colonial period.

North Korea[edit]

조선 (Chosŏn) : Korea

  • 금강산 Kŭmgangsan : Mount Kumgang, Diamond mountain
  • 압록강 Amnok gang : Yalu River, Chinese endonym used in English, as it forms the western portion of the border
  • 두만강 Tuman gang : Tumen River, Chinese endonym used in English, as it forms the eastern portion of the border

South Korea[edit]

한국 (Hanguk) : Korea






لبنان (Lubnān)


ليبيا (Libiyā)




Македонија (Makedonija)




  • Chişinău : (used only in a historical context) Kishinev (from Russian Кишинёв/Kishinyov)


Монгол улс (Mongol uls)


Црна Гора (Crna Gora)


المغرب (Al-Maghrib)

  • Ad-Dār Al-Beiḍāʼ (الدار البيضاء) : Casablanca
  • Fās (فاس) : Fez
  • Ṭanjah (طنجة) : Tangier



New Zealand[edit]

Aotearoa / New Zealand


Norge, Noreg

Palestinian Territories[edit]







Россия (Rossiya)

  • Arkhangel'sk (Архангельск) : Archangel
  • Kavkaz (Кавказ) : Caucasus
  • Komsomol'sk-na-Amure (Комсомольск-на-Амуре) : Komsomolsk-on-Amur
  • Moskva (Москва) : Moscow
  • Oryol (Орёл) : Orel
  • Pskov (Псков) : (used only in a historical context) Plescow
  • Rostov-na-Donu (Ростов-на-Дону) : Rostov-on-Don
  • Sankt-Peterburg (Санкт-Петербург) : Saint Petersburg

Saudi Arabia[edit]

السعودية (As-Saʿūdīyah)

  • Jiddah (جدة) : Jeddah
  • Al-Madīnah (المدينة) : Medina
  • Makkah (مکة) : Mecca
  • Ar-Riyāḍ (الرياض) : Riyadh


Србија (Srbija)





South Africa[edit]

Many South African towns have multiple names due to the diversity of languages.



English uses Spanish exonyms for some well known places in non-Spanish (Catalan, Valencian, Basque, Galician) speaking regions.

Sri Lanka[edit]

  • ශ්‍රී ලංකා (Shri Lanka) / இலங்கை (Ilaṅkai)
  • Galla (ගාල්ල) / Kali (காலி) : Galle
  • Halawata (හලාවත) / Cilāpam (சிலாபம்) : Chilaw
  • Kolamba (කොළඹ) / Kolumpu (கொழும்பு) : Colombo
  • Madakalapuwa (මඩකලපුව) / Maṭṭakkaḷappu (மட்டக்களப்பு) : Batticaloa
  • Mahanuwara (මහනුවර) / Kanti (கண்டி): Kandy
  • Meegamuwa (මීගමුව) / Nirkolompu (நீர்கொழும்பு) : Negombo
  • Modara (මෝදර) / Mukattuvāram (முகத்துவாரம்) : Mutwal
  • Thrikunamalaya (ත්‍රිකුණාමළය) / Tirukōṇamalai (திருகோணமலை) - Trincomalee
  • Yapanaya (යාපනය) / Yalpanam (யாழ்ப்பாணம்) : Jaffna


السودان (As-Sūdān)

  • Al-Ḫarṭūm (الخَرطوم) : Khartoum
  • An-Nīl (النيل) : Nile
  • Umm Durmān (أُم درمان) : Omdurman




Schweiz / Suisse / Svizzera

Historically, English-language sources borrowed French names for some places in German-speaking Switzerland. This practice is no longer universally followed, and many sources now use German names for most Swiss German-speaking places. Most guidebooks also now use "Basel" instead of the traditional "Basle."[23] French placenames in German-speaking areas are marked by an asterisk (*).


سورية (Sūrīyah)


ประเทศไทย (Prathet Thai)

  • Krung Thep Maha Nakon (กรุงเทพมหานคร) : Bangkok
  • Songkhla (สงขลา) : (used only in a historical context) Singora


تونس (Tūnis)

  • Qābis (قابس) : Gabès
  • Şafāqus (صفاقس) : Sfax
  • Sūsah (سوسة) : Sousse


Türkiye (endonym)


Україна (Ukrayina)

Many Ukrainian place names in English historically match the Russian spelling/pronunciation. For example:

  • Chornobyl (Чорнобиль) : Chernobyl
  • Horlivka (Горлівка) : Gorlovka
  • Kharkiv (Харків) : Kharkov
  • Kryvyi Rih (Кривиі Ріг) : Krivoy Rog
  • Kyiv (Київ) : Kiev

Ukrainian regions corresponding to historical subdivision:

United Kingdom[edit]



NOTE: These places are all in the Hebrides, where Scottish Gaelic is predominant.



See also: Welsh exonyms and Welsh placenames
NOTE: English is the most frequently spoken language in some of the locations listed below. In others Welsh is predominant.

United States[edit]

NOTE: In the United States some places have names in English and various native languages.

New York[edit]


Việt Nam Several towns have English or French names joining the two syllables:

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Manual for the National Standardization of Geographical Names - Page 129 United Nations Group of Experts on Geographical Names, United Nations. Statistical Division - 2006 "An exonym is a name given by a linguistic community—a group of people who communicate with each other with relative ease in a common language—in its own language to a topographic feature situated in a territory where this language has no official status, for example, a foreign country. The English traditionally use the form "conventional name", but here we will use the internationally accepted term “exonym”."
  2. ^ Peeter Päll, Estonia, "Do Romanization Systems Create Exonyms?" UN Group of Experts on Geographical Names, Working Group on Romanization Systems (2002)
  3. ^ Exonyms and the International Standardisation of Geographical Names Peter Jordan, Milan Orožen Adamič, Paul Woodman - 2007- Page 16 "2.2.11 This brings us on to the question of romanization. Does the application of a romanization system turn an endonym into an exonym? In his GeoNames 2000 paper Do Romanization Systems Create Exonyms?, Peeter Päll argued convincingly.."
  4. ^ M. B. Hooker Laws of South-East Asia: The pre-modern texts 1986 - Page 23 "Place names such as Rangoon, Mandalay, Pegu and Moulmein have been left in the English form which is familiar to the non-Burmese reader. Personal names also have been left in the old romanization which seems to be familiar to.."
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai aj ak al am an ao ap aq ar as at au av aw ax ay az ba bb bc bd be bf bg bh bi bj bk bl bm bn bo bp bq br bs bt bu bv bw Utrata Fachwörterbuch: Geographie - Englisch-Deutsch/Deutsch-Englisch by Jürgen Utrata (2014). Retrieved 10 Apr 2014.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai aj ak al am an ao ap aq ar as at au av aw ax ay az ba bb bc bd be bf bg bh bi bj bk bl bm bn bo bp bq br bs bt bu bv bw bx by bz ca cb cc cd ce cf cg ch ci cj ck cl cm cn Worsch, Wolfgang (2004). Langenscheidt Muret-Sanders Großwörterbuch, Teil II, Deutsch-Englisch , Langenscheidt KG, Berlin, Munich, Vienna, Zurich, New York, pp. 1269-1272. ISBN 3-468-02126-7.
  7. ^ Willemyns, Roland. Dutch: Biography of a Language. Oxford University Press. 2013.
  8. ^ Kaske, Elisabeth (2008). "The Politics of Language in Chinese Education". Brill. p. 52. 
  9. ^ Man, Bosat (June 1990). "Backhill/Peking/Beijing" (PDF). Sino-Platonic Papers (19): 5. 
  10. ^ Dennys, Nicholas Belfield; Mayers, William Frederick; King, Charles (1867). The Treaty Ports of Japan and China. Trübner and Company. p. 116. ; quote: "The name by which the city is known to the Chinese themselves is Kwang-chow-fu ... the word Canton being merely a corruption by the Portuguese, the first European visitors, of the name of the Province."
  11. ^ Chew, Phillis Ghim-Lian (2013). Emergent Lingua Francas and World Orders: The Politics and Place of English as a World Language. Routledge. p. 254. 
  12. ^ Forêt, Philippe (2000). Mapping Chengde: The Qing Landscape Enterprise. University of Hawaii Press. p. xv. 
  13. ^ Tavereine, Patrick (2004). Han–Mongol Encounters and Missionary Endeavors: A History of Scheut in Ordos (Hetao) 1874–1911. Leuven University Press. p. 2000. 
  14. ^ Forêt 2000, p. xvi : "The name Manchuria indicates exclusively a geographical area and not a political entity. Manchuria is not a word in Chinese or in Manchu ... The term refers to the area now covered by Liaoning, Jilin, Heilongjiang, and the northeastern part of Inner Mongolia."
  15. ^ Webb, Adrian. The Routledge Companion to Central and Eastern Europe since 1919. 2008.
  16. ^ a b Langenscheidt does not qualify this usage as 'historical'.
  17. ^ The Nibelungen Tradition: An Encyclopedia by edited by Winder McConnell, Werner Wunderlich, Frank Gentry, Ulrich Mueller. Retrieved 10 Apr 2014.
  18. ^ Dickinson, Robert E. (1964). Germany: A regional and economic geography (2nd ed.). London: Methuen. p. 37. ASIN B000IOFSEQ. 
  19. ^ Described in other sources as uplands; they are not really high enough to qualify geographically as mountains.
  20. ^ Dorit Diskin Ravid Spelling Morphology 2012- Page 10 "For example, in the Hebraist tradition, current v would be transcribed as either w or b following Hebrew graphemes – so that official place names on road signs in Israel can be quite misleading to non-Hebrew readers traveling around Israel."
  21. ^ http://www.korean.go.kr/09_new/dic/rule/rule_roman.jsp
  22. ^ Robert D. Kaplan. Balkan Ghosts: A Journey Through History. 1993. (Picador, 2014.) p. 119. ISBN 9781466868304
  23. ^ Bewes, Diccon. Swiss Watching: Inside the Land of Milk and Honey. p.vii. 2012.
  24. ^ Lonely Planet Turkey ed. Verity Campbell 2007 Page 233 "There are also flights between İzmir and Europe on various European airlines (see p672). With the launch of İzmir Airlines, direct flights to Europe will greatly increase, and İzmir is billed to become one of Turkey's biggest hubs." and Page 291 "Original İznik tiles are antiquities and cannot be exported from Turkey, but new tiles make great, if not particularly cheap, souvenirs."
  25. ^ Exonyms and the International Standardisation of Geographical Names: Approaches towards the Resolution of an Apparent Contradiction Peter Jordan, Milan Orožen Adamič, Paul Woodman, Vienna 2007 Page 210 [lists Istanbul, as an English exonym of İstanbul. Istanbul appears to be the only English exonym listed for any Turkish city].
  26. ^ James Steele (1990). Turkey - A Traveller's Historical and Architectural Guide. Scorpion. pp. 161–162. ISBN 0-905906-72-1. 
  27. ^ Donald F. Lach, Edwin J. Van Kley Asia in the Making of Europe, Volume III: A Century of Advance. 1998 Page 1256 "Buzomi began his mission at "Turon" (Tourane, the French name for Da Nang), a town downriver from the place where the king resides."
  28. ^ Jean-Pierre Duteil Alexandre de Rhodes' Histoire du royaume du Tonkin 1999 Page 37 "Tourane se développe aux dépends de Faifo à la fin du XVIfle siècle, et l'éclipsé à peu près complètement au XTXe. "Faifo" doit son nom au "marché" (phô) de Hôi an (Hôi-an phô). "Tourane" correspondrait à la prononciation chinoise de .."