Surnames dictionary in the UK goes free for a week

An online dictionary explaining the meanings and origins of more than 45,000 British and Irish surnames is being made accessible to all in the hope that it might help bring families separated by Covid-19 closer together.

For the next week – until May 21 2020 – people will be able to tap into the Oxford Dictionary of Family Names in Britain and Ireland for free and find out where their surnames – and thus perhaps their ancestors – came from. The dictionary was compiled by a team of researchers from UWE Bristol. It includes every surname that currently has more than 100 bearers, and all those that had more than 20 bearers in the 1881 census.

ANS member Richard Coates, a professor emeritus of onomastics at UWE Bristol, who led the research, said he thought it was a “splendid” idea to open it up. “There seems to be perpetual interest in where surnames come from. It can be an excellent way of helping people begin to trace their family histories.”

The dictionary suggests nearly 40,000 family names are native to Britain and Ireland, while the remainder reflect the diverse languages and cultures of immigrants who have settled since the 16th century.

The dictionary can be accessed here. Families are being invited to post a photo or image that sums up what their name means to them with the hashtag #familynames202.

Consultations show low support for renaming Winnipeg streets

A report heading to Winnipeg’s city council shows low support for changing street or park names or removing historical markers despite the sometimes problematic history of people they’re named after.

Community consultations for Welcoming Winnipeg: Reconciling our History shows 49 per cent of respondents did not want historical markers removed, even if, from a modern perspective, the actions of the honouree was controversial. However, 23 per cent of respondents were fine with changing or removing names.

The city of Winnipeg embarked on the community consultations after Mayor Brian Bowman announced last January that the city would review how it names streets and places, acknowledging the lack of Indigenous history in the city’s naming systems.

Geographical Names Board calling for feedback on Medowie public reserve name

The Port Stephens community (New South Wales, Australia) is being called on by the Geographical Names Board to have their say about a proposal to formally name a Medowie reserve after the iconic Bower bird.

Board chair Narelle Underwood said feedback was being sought on Port Stephens Council’s proposal to name a public reserve located north of Topaz Avenue, within The Bower residential estate, as Bower Reserve. “It is important that place names reflect the character and history of the local area and community,” Mrs Underwood said. They want to make sure everyone has an opportunity to provide their feedback on the proposed name. According to the submission, the name is derived from the estate name that the reserve is located in.

Frome tops list of most difficult to pronounce place names in the UK

A market town in Somerset has topped a list of the 10 most difficult-to-pronounce place names in the UK.

Frome is the most mispronounced town in England, according to a team of linguists behind a language learning app. Ballachulish in Scotland, Beaulieu in Hampshire and Woolfardisworthy in Devon also made the top 10. The list’s makers said British English was “famous for some of the most confusing pronunciations on earth”.

‘How do you say?’: The Top 10 ‘most difficult’ place names

Frome, Somerset, England
Ballachulish, Highland, Scotland
Godmanchester, Cambridgeshire, England
Omagh, County Tyrone, Northern Ireland
Woolfardisworthy, Devon, England
Beaulieu, Hampshire, England
Bicester, Oxfordshire, England
Ynysybwl, Cwm Clydach, RCT, Wales
Rampisham, Dorset, England
Quernmore, Lancashire, England

BabyNames.com seeking experts for interviews!

BabyNames.com is seeking name experts to be interviewed on future episodes of The Baby Names Podcast. We’ve already had the pleasure of speaking with ANS members Cleve Evans and Laurel Sutton and have received a great response.

If you have an expertise in any of the subjects, below, or know someone who does – please contact us. If you have a recommendation for another subject that you’ve researched, also let us know!

The Baby Names Podcast receives approximately 10,000 listeners per month and growing. We promote it through our site and social media and are happy to link to your social accounts and/or research. Email Jennifer Moss, jennifer@babynames.com, to submit yourself for a topic…or to suggest one!
  • Spanish Names and Spanish Naming Conventions
  • Shakespeare Names
  • Biblical Names / Saint’s Names
  • Early American & Puritanical Names
  • Presidents, Prime Ministers and Political Names
  • Irish Names and Naming
  • Immigration and Naming (“Americanizing Names”)
  • Chinese Names

Toledo City Council approves airport name change

Toledo City Council on 17th September 2019 voted unanimously to officially change the name of Toledo Express Airport to the Eugene F. Kranz Toledo Express Airport.

The name change is to honor Mr. Kranz, 86, who served as flight director for Apollo 11 and directed the successful rescue mission of the Apollo 13 crew. He was born in Toledo and graduated from Central Catholic High School.

Toledo Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz first announced his intention to change the airport’s name to honor the NASA icon. Now all that’s left is for the Federal Aviation Administration to authorize the name change.

Tasmanian Aboriginal community prepared for war over place-name legislation

Premier Will Hodgman says new legislation to penalise those who use place names not formally recognised as Tasmanian nomenclature will not extend to Aboriginal place names. Greens leader Cassy O’Connor asked Mr Hodgman in Parliament how the proposed legislation to worked with the government’s pledge to reset its relationship with the Aboriginal community. She said Aboriginal names attached to places had been used for thousands of years. Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre chief executive Heather Sculthorpe said the community would resist the legislation and would risk prison time if necessary. “This bill is a direct attack on Aboriginal rights to use our own language and maintain our cultural heritage,” she said.