Amusing place names…

April 16, 2010 at 4:39 pm 8 comments

On a recent road trip across Ireland, I was amused to pass a road sign directing me to a town called Horse and Jockey, then later a sign for Twomileborris. This led me to start thinking about peculiar place names I’d come across on my travels, such as Knockin in Shropshire, England, and Yorkey’s Knob in Queensland, Australia. I have fond memories of giggling with my parents when we went to visit friends in Piddletrentide in Dorset, England.

Yorkey's Knob, Queensland, Australia

Yorkey's Knob, Queensland, Australia

The amusing thing about these place names is that, if you live in them or near them, you are so used to them that you don’t even consider the humorous possibilities. I grew up just down the road from Dorking and Middle Wallop, and didn’t give them a second thought. I wonder if residents of Turnip Hole in Pennsylvania, USA, feel the same.

I like place names which are particularly descriptive. Tourists are unlikely to have any idea what awaits for them in Chester by name alone, whereas Dangerous Corner in Lancashire gives what sounds like a much-needed warning to the unwitting visitor. Of course sometimes descriptive names can be taken too far, a case in point being the town of Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch in Anglesey, Wales, which to Welsh speakers means ‘the church of St. Mary in the hollow of white hazel trees near the rapid whirlpool by St. Tysilio’s of the red cave’. After living in Wales for three years I can still only begin to pronounce this.

Then there are those which are completely cryptic but hint at a fascinating (or at least funny) story which led to the town’s naming, such as Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump in Alberta, Canada.

Many of these place names are rude and many of them belong to small towns – I wonder if these two facts are connected? Anyway, here are a few of my favourites – a more comprehensive list can be found here. Click on the names to see them on a map.

Peculiar – Missouri, USA
Big Ugly – West Virginia, USA
Foggy Bottom – Washington D.C., USA
Westward Ho – Devon, England
Tightwad -Missouri, USA
Middelfart – Denmark
Accident – Maryland, USA
Boring – Oregon, USA
Muckle Flugga – Shetland Isles, UK
Surprise – Arizona, USA
Sweet Lips – Tennessee, USA
Little Snoring – Norfolk, England
Shoofly – North Carolina, USA

If you’ve discovered an amusingly named place you’d like to share with us, or have a B&B in an amusingly names place, leave us a comment below…


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8 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Orlaithd  |  April 17, 2010 at 11:06 am

    What about Elephant Butte in New Mexico USA? Not sure you would know what to expect in a place called that!

  • 2. Heidi Reyes  |  April 19, 2010 at 7:40 am

    I would add this one: What Cheer, Iowa.

  • 3. linda  |  April 19, 2010 at 1:07 pm

    Lancashire is full of quirky places names but isn’t that Dangerous Corner you refer to actually Awkward Corner nr Bury?

  • 4. bedandbreakfastworldblog  |  April 19, 2010 at 4:32 pm

    Dangerous Corner is located close to Wigan, I believe, but there does indeed seem to be an Awkward Corner near Bury, as you say, Linda. Any other suggestions of amusing place names in Lancashire?

  • 5. Maine Innkeeper  |  April 24, 2010 at 1:25 am

    We have a Purgatory near me (in Maine). There are quite a lot of Native American named places here that can be awfully hard to pronounce if you haven’t a guide book (we hand them out at the inn).

    A few more English-sounding names are:

    Bailey’s Mistake
    Calendar Islands (there are so many, some wit said there was one for every day of the year)
    Massacre Pond
    Robinhood (yup, we have one, too!)

    And, just for fun, try pronouncing these (not as hard as Welsh, but close!)


  • 6. bedandbreakfastworldblog  |  April 29, 2010 at 8:19 am

    Those are great – would love to know the story behind Bailey’s Mistake. Possibly not Massacre Pond, though…!

  • 7. Jim Page  |  February 3, 2011 at 1:41 pm

    In Missouri there is a Knob Lick and a Dongola…

  • 8. Kristen  |  February 3, 2011 at 2:32 pm

    Intercourse, PA, USA!


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