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"End" in place names

Posted by R. Berg on June 02, 2003

In Reply to: "End" in place names posted by Bob on June 02, 2003

: : : : I don't know if this qualifies as a phrase, but I've had some difficulty in learning more of the origin of the suffix "End" pertaining to place names like "Audley End" where I have just visited or "Howards End". What is an End? This is a marvelous site and I thought someone here might know. Thank you.

: : : The Oxford English Dictionary gives this definition, marked obsolete, for one sense of "end": "A 'quarter', division, region (of the world, of a country or town." The OED's quotations illustrating this sense come from the years 893 to 1450.

: : End is a common English placename and was given to places that were at the end of the road/track. Over time development has overtaken these places and they are now often found in the middle of cities - Crouch End in London for example. Many English placenames, given before maps were made, refer to position. I visited friends yesterday who live at Clough Bottom in the Derbyshire Peak District. Clough is the local name for valley (Norse origin I think). Their house is in a valley at the bottom of the steepest road in England, which my car's clutch wasn't too happy about.

: : The OED may say it is obsolete but end is still used in everyday language in England. As children we were often chased away when up to mischief near someone's house with 'get back down your own end' and I heard that used much more recently too.

: Not obsolete in the U.S., either. It's not at all uncommon to hear "which end of town" or "my end of town." There are also, of course, the "ends of the earth."

"End of town" may be regional. Out here in the western U.S., I don't hear people using it.