Place Names That Became Words
Toponyms That Led to Words (and Elements on the Periodic Table)
By Dimitar Zhelev, Geography Intern
The scientific fields of toponymy (the study of place names) and etymology (the study of word origins) are vast. Knowing about the 'history' and the 'geography' of the words we can understand easily their meaning and, moreover, implement them correctly. Words such as 'tariff', 'marathon', 'spa', 'jeans', 'bungalow'* and so on refer to geographic objects that have given their names to these nouns.
While "toponyms" are the names of specific places, "geonyms" are the names of geographic features. Some of these geonyms have particular origins related to exact locations. For instance, the geopolitical term for unwelcome fragmentation, "balkanization", originates from the Balkan Peninsula's history in the twentieth century.