Names – why do they change?

Interesting how names of towns change. We live in Lacey a suburb of Olympia Washington, the states capital. It was originally called Woodland after settlers Isaac and Catherine Wood. It was consolidated with Chambers Creek in the 1950’s and renamed Lacey for attorney and developer O.C. Lacey.

A sister city, Tumwater was originally New Market.

I recently read a book set in WWII and the author inserted a bit of history of London’s name. She said the Celtic name for London was Londinion and the Roman name was Londinium. This was all it took to get my interest and I went online to research it.

According to Wikipedia, there is no consensus on what the name Londinium means. Romans commonly adopted native names for new settlements and a common theory is that the name derives from a hypothetical Celtic placename, Londinion. Lond in Celtic means ‘wild’.

Putting different theory’s into play Londinium would mean “the settlement on the wide river”. And from what I’ve read the river was pretty wild.

As near as I could find the name London sort of evolved from the longer version of the name.

It makes me wonder how many of our towns and cities have retained their original names. I can see how they might change if they were taken over by another culture like in war but in our case Lacey and Tumwater have never experienced anything like that so why? Maybe in Lacey’s case, Chambers Creek joining them might have played a part, but that still leaves why New Market was changed to Tumwater.

London seems to have only shortened their name, which I can understand. But I’m still not sure I would have supported Lacey and Tumwater. Maybe it’s a good thing I wasn’t around or in Lacey’s case to young to know or care.

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6 responses to “Names – why do they change?

  1. I, too, do not understand some name changes. A few years ago, there was a group trying to incorporate our area. They had planned it all out, even to the point of selecting a name–Southview. I didn’t like their arrogance in selecting a name without even asking for input from the general public. They were completely out of touch with the area as proven by a 90% no vote when it went to a vote. So I’m guessing some names are politically decided without any input from the folks who live there.

  2. Roads are another thing that seem to change names. I’ve seen a lot of them with the historical name and todays name on the road sign.

  3. Valerie J. Patterson

    I live in a town that was named for General Anthony Wayne of the American Revolution. The county is also named after Nathanael Greene, a Major General in the American Revolution. However, the streets are named after prominent people who resided here and contributed greatly to the community during their lifetimes.

    Could it be that the town was renamed Lacey because the man contributed something noteworthy to the area?

    An interesting post, Lavada. 😛

  4. Interesting post, Lavada. Here in the UK names are changed mostly to honour people of note and there’s almost always an uproar when it happens, especially amongst the locals. Us Brits don’t like change at the best of times 🙂

  5. Valerie, I didn’t think about someone making a contribution and being honored. That probably does account for a lot of name changes.

    Tricia,
    I’m with the Brits then because I don’t like changes that don’t need to be made. Maybe the exception was for someone that contributed something substantial.

  6. Neat post. Goodness knows, they like to change names here where Iive all the time. LOL! We have a couple of main arteries through town that have five names – One street in particular has 6. It’s very confusing to visitors but to locals, if you say you’re on Bayou Blvd, we know you’re near the mall, if you say you’re on Saufley Field Road, you’re by the Navy base/Federal prison. Same road, different part of town. Weird

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