Dictionary.com Word FAQs
What are good sources for finding out the history of place names?
There are very good books about place names: A Place Called Peculiar (Gallant, Frank, Springfield, MA: Merriam-Webster, 1998); Brewer's Dictionary of Names (Room, Adrian et. al., Nottingham, UK: Helicon, 2000); Off the Map (Nelson, Derek, New York: Kodansha International, 1997); All Over the Map: An Extraordinary Atlas of the United States (Jouris, David, Berkley, CA: Ten Speed Press, 1994); Oxford Dictionary of English Place Names (Mills, A.D. New York: Oxford University Press [2nd ed.], 1998); Placenames of the World (Room, Adrian, Jefferson NC: McFarland, 1997); and What's in a Name? (Dickson, Paul, Springfield, MA: Merriam-Webster, 1996). Dictionaries (collegiate and unabridged, mainly) which include geographical entries will sometimes offer the origin of the place names. In an encyclopedia article about a geographical entity, you might find the derivation of the name. You might also be interested in toponyms - familiar words and phrases derived from place names.