This blog is for everyone who uses words.

The ordinary-sized words are for everyone, but the big ones are especially for children.

Thursday, 24 April 2014

Where Not To Go In 2014: a rant.

Someone in Ireland once remarked to me how funny English place names are.

As we were in the Dublin parish of Sallynoggin at the time, I was slightly bemused.

It's certainly true that there are certainly a lot of odd and sometimes unfortunate English place names about, though. My county of Hertfordshire has places called Ugly and Nasty, goodness knows what idiot named them. Even worse, there used to be a place just a mile or so from here called Piccotts Bottom.

Hey! No sniggering at the back, there! It's not funny!

Worst of all, in Kent the other week I came across a place called Bedlams Bottom which is situated right at the bottom of Raspberry Hill. Obviously my outrage at this example of silly naming knew no....

...oh, all right.

It's brilliant isn't it.

Brightened up my whole day.

Raspberry Background
Photo by Petr Kratochvil

Word To Use Today: raspberry. This word comes from raspis, but no one seems to know where it came from before that. To give someone the raspberry means to refuse them whatever it is they want. To blow a raspberry is to make a rude spluttery noise by blowing through the closed lips. These expressions both come from the Cockney rhyming slang raspberry tart. I expect you can complete the rhyme yourself.


  1. Hee! I love those place names!
    Except maybe Ugly and Nasty. That's just too depressing.

    Somebody should write a book about how places got their names. I'm sure it would be very entertaining!

    1. Well, there are lots of books about English place names, Jingles. Someone has even produced a book about the origins of the street names in my town. I was brought up in Belswains Lane: now, is that the lane of the beautiful lover, or the lane in which you'd find Mr Bell's cart?
      I can't honestly say the place abounded in either, worse luck.

  2. Lovely! I love funny place names or unusual ones. Sallynoggin is good. And of course, raspberries are delicious.

    1. Sallynoggin was an interesting place, though sadly Sally wasn't offered a single noggin all the time she was there, though the hospitality in Dublin was generally warm and marvellous.

  3. I didn't realise how funny (and difficult to pronounce) English place names are until I travelled back to England with an Irish colleague to do some surveillance around Oxfordshire, Berkshire, Gloucestershire, etc.

    Hearing him attempt to pronounce names like Kingston Bagpuize, Salisbury, Worcester, etc, over the radio was very, very funny indeed.

    But then Ireland has Tuam, Loughrea, Athenry, Dundalk, Drogheda, etc, which foreigners find similarly impossible to pronounce correctly first time. And in the funny names category, it has Kilcock and Muff, although I'm not really sure why either of those are funny (ahem).

    1. It's always seemed unfortunate that the first place you get to in Ireland is Dun Laoghaire (Dun Leery). Mind you, the Iona ferry goes from Fionnphort. That's pronounced Finnyfoot. I think...Ah well, as you say, we in England don't make things easy, either, situating the Globe Theatre in Southwark (SUTHuck).