List of tautological place names

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

A place name is tautological if two differently sounding parts of it are synonymous. This often occurs when a name from one language is imported into another and a standard descriptor is added on from the second language. Thus, for example, New Zealand's Mount Maunganui is tautological since maunga is Māori for mountain. The following is a list of place names often used tautologically, plus the languages from which the non-English name elements have come.

Tautological place names are systematically generated in languages such as English and Russian, where the type of the feature is systematically added to a name regardless of whether it contains it already. For example, in Russian, the format "Ozero X-ozero" (i.e. "Lake X-lake") is used. In English, it is usual to do the same for foreign names, even if they already describe the feature, for example Lake Kemijärvi (Lake Kemi-lake), or Saaremaa island (Island land island, actually island land island land, since island comes from an old English word for island land).


Lakes and other bodies of water[edit]

Mountains and hills[edit]

  • Barrhill, barr is an old Celtic word for a flat topped hill.
  • Bergeberget, Norway (The Hill Hill – Norwegian)
  • Brda Hills, Slovenia – "brda" means small hills in Slovene (thus, the area is sometimes referred to as "Goriška Brda" or "Gorizia Hills" to distinguish it from others)
  • Bredon Hill, England (Hill Hill Hill – Brythonic/Old English/Modern English); compare Bredon and Breedon on the Hill (Hill Hill on the Hill – Brythonic/Saxon/Modern English)[4]
  • Brill, England (Hill Hill – Brythonic/Saxon) – also once known in documents as Brill-super-montem (Hill Hill on the Hill – Brythonic/Saxon/Latin)
  • Brincliffe Edge, Sheffield, UK (Burning Hill Hill Welsh/English)
  • Bryn Glas Hill, Wales (Blue Hill Hill – Welsh/English)
  • Brynhill, Wales (Hill Hill – Welsh/English)
  • Djebel Amour, Algeria: (Arabic & Tamazight)
  • Eizmendi: Haitz Mendi 'mount mount' (Euskara)
  • Filefjell, Norway (The mountain mountain – Norwegian)
  • Fjällfjällen, Sweden (The mountain mountains – Swedish)
  • Garmendia: Garr- Mendi(a) (fossil & modern Basque)
  • Gibraltar, commonly "The Rock of Gibraltar" From Arabic Jebel-Al-Tariq, which means "The Rock of Tariq"
  • Hill Mountain, Pembrokeshire, Wales
  • Hueco Tanks, an area of low mountains in El Paso County, Texas.
  • Knockhill, a common placename in the Scottish Lowlands, deriving from Scottish Gaelic, cnoc meaning a "hill".
  • Kukkulamäki, in 24 distinct locations (Rautjärvi, Jyväskylä, Salo, ...) in Finland, is kukkula "hill" and mäki "hill".[3]
  • Mongibellu, Sicilian name of the volcano Etna, in Sicily, Italy (Mountain Mountain, from Italian monte and Arabic jabal).
  • Montcuq, Lot, France: Mont Kukk 'mount mount'
  • Mount Afadja, Ghana's highest peak, is often referred to as 'Mount Afadjato', which means 'Mount Afadja Mountain', 'To' being the Ewe language word for 'Mountain'. Ewe is the main language spoken in the area surrounding the peak.
  • Mount Katahdin, Maine (Mount The Greatest Mountain – English/Penobscot)
  • Mount Kenya, Kenya (Mount White Mountain – "Kenya" is from Kikuyu "Kirinyaga", 'white mountain')
  • Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania (Mount Mount Njaro – Swahili)
  • Mount Maunganui, New Zealand (Mount Mount Big – Māori)
  • Mount Ōyama, Japan (Mount Big Mountain – Japanese)
  • Ochil Hills, Scotland (Hill hills)
  • Pendle Hill, Lancashire, England. (Hill Hill Hill) – "Pen" -(Cumbric language) "Pendle" by epenthesis and elision from "Pen Hyll", the latter word being Old English for "hill".
  • Pendleton, near Pendle Hill, Lancashire, England. (Hill Hill Town) or, possibly (Hill Hill Hill), taking the -ton as deriving from Old English dun as opposed to Old English tun.
  • Pendleton Hill, North Stonington, Connecticut. (Hill Hill Town Hill) or, possibly, (Hill Hill Hill Hill).
  • Penhill, North Yorkshire, England: Pen (Brittonic) and hyll (Old English), both meaning "hill"
  • Pic de la Munia in Piau-Engaly, France: Pic Muño (Romance & Euskara)
  • Picacho Peak (Arizona, U.S.) (Peak Peak – Spanish)
  • Pinnacle Peak (Maricopa County, Arizona, U.S.) and Mount Pinnacle (southwestern Virginia, U.S.). Both English. Other locations have the same names.
  • Slieve Mish Mountains, Ireland (Mis's Mountain mountains)
  • Slieve Bloom Mountains, Ireland – (Bladh's Mountain Mountains)
  • Summit Peak, New Zealand (Peak Peak – both English) – also the U.S. has five hills called Summit Peak.
  • Torpenhow, Cumbria, England, supposedly meaning "hill hill hill", exaggerated into an (unsubstantiated) "Torpenhow Hill = hill-hill-hill hill" for effect;[5] it may only be a single tautology, torpen expressing "the top or breast of a hill" (rather than "hill-hill"), with the tautological addition of Old Norse howe (haugr) "hill".[6]
  • Tuc de la Pale, Ariège, France: Tuk Pal 'mount mount'
  • Vignemale, Pyrenees: Went Mal 'mount mount'


Human structures[edit]

  • Calatañazor Castle, Spain (Eagles Castle Castle – from Arabic Qal'at an-Nusur, 'Castle of the Eagles')
  • Calatayud Castle, Spain (Jewish Castle Castle – from Arabic Qal'at Yahud, 'Jewish Castle')
  • Calatrava la Vieja Castle and Calatrava la Nueva Castle, Spain (The Old Rabah's Castle Castle and The New Rabah's Castle Castle – from Arabic Qal'at Rabah, Rabah being the first Muslim owner of the first ("old") castle in the 8th century)
  • Carmarthen, Wales (Welsh : Caerfyddin) – (Fort fort by the sea – "Caer"/"Car" = Welsh for fort (from Latin castra), "marthen"/"m(f)yrddin" is Welsh name derived from Latin Moridunum, which itself derived from Brythonic "môr" (sea) and "din"/"dun" (fort))[7]
  • Cartagena, Spain – originally Carthago Nova (New New City), from Latin "New Carthage"; Carthago itself is from Phoenician Qart-ḥadašt, 'New City'
  • Châteaudun, France (Castle Stronghold – French and Gaulish)
  • El Camino Way in Palo Alto, California (The way way – Spanish)[8]
  • El Pont de Suert, Catalonia, Spain – literally 'the bridge of bridge'; "Pont" is the Catalan word for 'bridge' derived from Latin pons, pontis 'bridge' and "Suert" is the Basque word for 'bridge'
  • El Puente de Alcántara, Toledo, Spain (The Bridge of the Bridge – Puente from Spanish, Alcántara from Arabic اقنطرة al-qanṭarah 'the bridge')
  • Forumtorget in Uppsala, Sweden. Forum being the Latin word for square and torget also meaning square. Thus, Square-square.
  • Gaza Museum of Archaeology, known as "the al-Mat'haf Museum."[9] In Arabic, المتحف al-Matḥaf means 'the Museum'; thus, it is being called "the the Museum Museum."
  • Laugardalslaug (a swimming pool in Reykjavík, literally 'the pool of the valley of the pool'; the valley was originally named after pools used for washing clothes, but a swimming pool was subsequently built there)
  • Linguaglossa, Italy (Sicily) (from Italian "lingua", "tongue" and Greek" "γλώσσα", "tongue")
  • Moorestown Township, New Jersey
  • Napton-on-the-Hill, Warwickshire – Napton means "settlement on the hill"
  • Pawtucket Falls (Massachusetts) and Pawtucket Falls (Rhode Island)Pawtucket is an Algonkian word meaning "at the falls in the river (tidal stream)".[10]
  • Staðarstaður, Iceland (Staður means "a pastor's farm" and is a common suffix to the names of such farms—this means "Pastor's farm which is a pastor's farm")
  • Street Road is a highway that passes through several towns slightly north of Philadelphia, PA – Two nearly synonymous English words
  • Trendle Ring earthwork in Somerset, England (Circle Circle)


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Victor Wadds, ed., The Cambridge Dictionary of English Place Names, 2004, s.n. River AVON
  2. ^ Piesarskas, Bronius; Bronius Svecevičus (1995). Lithuanian Dictionary. London: Routledge. ISBN 0-415-12857-9. 
  3. ^ a b Kansalaisen karttapaikka.
  4. ^ McDonald, Fred; Julia Cresswell (1993). The Guinness Book of British Place Names. London: Guinness Publishing. ISBN 0-85112-576-X. 
  5. ^ Francis, Darryl (2003). "The Debunking of Torpenhow Hill". Word Ways 36 (1): 6–8. 
  6. ^ David Mills, 2011, A Dictionary of British Place-Names
  7. ^ Hywel Wyn Jones, The Place-Names of Wales, 1998
  8. ^ Merriam-Webster (1998). Merriam-Webster's Spanish-English Dictionary. Springfield, MA: Merriam Webster. ISBN 0-87779-165-1. 
  9. ^ Bronner, Ethan (July 25, 2008). "Museum Offers Gray Gaza a View of Its Dazzling Past". New York Times. Retrieved June 6, 2013. 
  10. ^