To find the true origin and meaning of place-names requires access to early documents and familiarity with Old and Middle English dialects, but lack of these resources never stopped people devising explanations by relating names to real or imagined history, legend, or fanciful wordplay. There are hundreds such in every county, not only for towns and villages but for fields, woods, rocks, lakes, etc. Some draw on established story-patterns; others are mere puns and jokes.
   Village rivalry has led to many place-name rhymes which recur in various parts of England with differing but appropriate names. Thus:
   for riches, for poor,
   for a pretty girl, and for a whore.
   Taunts rhyming 'people' and 'steeple' are widespread, for example:
   Dirty Tredington, wooden steeple, Funny parson, wicked people.
   Berwick is a dirty town, A church without a steeple,
   A dunghill before every door, And very deceitful people.
   So are lists with insulting epithets:
   Beggarly Bisley, strutting Stroud, Mincing Hampton, Painswick proud.
   ■ Mary Williams, Folklore 74 (1963), 361-76; W. F. H. Nicolaisen, Folklore 87 (1976), 146-59. The latter uses Scottish examples, but sets out principles equally applicable to English material.

A Dictionary of English folklore. . 2014.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Place names considered unusual — There are many unusual place names throughout the world. The study of placenames is known as toponymy. Types of placenames often seen as unusual include: * Names with unorthodox spelling or sound. * Names which are extremely short (e.g., one… …   Wikipedia

  • Place names in Irish — Many place names in Ireland in the English language are either anglicisations of those in the Irish language, or completely different, such as the name for the capital of Ireland, which in English is Dublin, but in Irish is Baile Átha Cliath. The …   Wikipedia

  • Place names of Hong Kong — The generic forms of place names of Hong Kong are mainly, but not limited to Cantonese, Hakka and British English.Majority of generic forms are suffix such as Chung in Kwai Chung. Some indicators of ordering and direction could be as prefix, like …   Wikipedia

  • Place names in Sri Lanka with an English name — Locations in Sri Lanka with an English name is a list of Sri Lankan place names that were originally place names in England later applied in Sri Lanka by English emigrants and explorers.Places where the corresponding place name in England is… …   Wikipedia

  • Place names in Zimbabwe — Following independence in 1980, Zimbabwe (formerly Rhodesia) began renaming cities, towns and streets, in an attempt to eradicate symbols of British colonialism and white minority rule, starting in 1982, on the second anniversary of independence …   Wikipedia

  • List of Australian place names of Aboriginal origin — Place names in Australia have names of Aboriginal origin for three main reasons:* Historically, white explorers and surveyors may have asked local Aboriginal people the name of a place, and named it accordingly. Where they didn t ask, they may… …   Wikipedia

  • New Zealand place names — Most New Zealand place names are derived from Māori and British sources. Both groups used names to commemorate notable people, events, places from their homeland, their ships or to described the surrounding area. The Māori did not have a… …   Wikipedia

  • List of place names in New England of aboriginal origin — This is a List of place names in New England of aboriginal origin. New England is in the northeastern part of the United States, and comprises six states: Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont. Listed are… …   Wikipedia

  • Japanese place names — include names for geographic features, present and former administrative divisions, transportation facilities such as railroad stations, and historic sites in Japan. The article Japanese addressing system contains related information on postal… …   Wikipedia

  • Commission for the Determination of Place Names — Areas affected by the decisions of the Committee shown in dark yellow (Former Eastern Territories) and grey (Free City of Danzig) The Commission for the Determination of Place Names (Polish: Komisja Ustalania Nazw Miejscowości) was a commission… …   Wikipedia