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There is a word for New York?

What does Eboracum (I probably didn't even spell it right) even mean?

September 18, 2019



York (in England). It was the name the Romans gave to the town they founded at the site: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eboracum


Eboracum was the Roman name for their settlement in Northern England, when the Romans occupied Britain, that later became the City of York.

I think it means "yew tree", but I'm not certain about that.


For that matter, what does 'York' mean?

As has been said already, "Eboracum" is the name the Romans used for the settlement in Britain that is now called York. "Novi Eboraci," the name in the genitive, is used on the Seal of New York City.


"For that matter, what does 'York' mean?"

You shouldn't ask questions like that, because I just get a compulsion to go and find out!

OK, the answer (according to various sources on the Internet - I think this summary is fairly accurate, having compared several slightly different versions):

The village that eventually became the City of York, was originally Eburākon in the earliest records, and THAT name is a combination of Euberos meaning a Yew Tree and the suffix "ako" meaning "belonging to" or ""of that place". So, "Place of the Yew Trees", or something like that.

But the Latin name, Eboracum came from the Ancient British "Eburākon", not the other way round.

In the seventh century it became "Eoforwic", the first part being just a corruption of its original name and the "wic" meaning "village". In 866 AD the Danes invaded and records show they called it "Jórvík", which, simply, was easier to say than Eoforwic.

By the time of the great survey ordered by King William I in the years following the Norman invasion of 1066, the Normans had decided to call it "Everwic", which was probably pronounced something like "ever" (as in the English word) and "Oui" (as in the French word for "yes"). And that was how it was recorded in the Domesday Book (that held records of everything and everywhere in Britain and, most importantly, who owned it and who should pay taxes on it).

But the previous name persisted. There is a record from around 1170 showing it as Jórvík. By the end of the 14th century it is recorded as "Yerk", by the 16th century "Yourke", by the 17th century "Yarke". But there are records of it being referred to as "York" from as early as 1300.

Incidentally, the Archbishop of York traditionally signs his surname as "Ebor", even today.


You shouldn't ask questions like that . . .

Aha! Now we know how to get you going. ;)

Thanks for the information. And it's a good thing that the name changed, as "The Noble Duke of Eboracum" doesn't scan well in the old song.


for me - it is funny - when they use in latin sentences such cities as: New York, or Boston, Philadelphia. Somehow it is ridiculous. There are many others authentic citynames: Aquinqum, Savaria (in Hungary) or Olympe, Nicopolys, Vindobona (Wien), Salamis etc


I would have said something similar - until I started at looking at the Latin names that the Romans gave their towns and cities. York is not unique, and as I said in my other post here, the Latin name Eboracum was taken directly from the original local name Eburākon by the Romans. Similarly, Canterbury was in pre-Roman times known as the stronghold of the Cantiaci tribe and the Romans Latinised it into Durovernum Cantiacorum (the hard winter place of the Cantiaci), and often then shortened it to just "Durovernum".

So, taking a place name and Latinising it isn't new. The Romans did it, and I don't see that it isn't just as "authentic" to do it with other places that the Romans never managed to visit...

Of course, the Romans have left us plenty of places in England whose name has been anglicised from the original Latin. "Deva Victrix" was founded by the Romans, but the British were unwilling to keep the Latin name after most of the Romans left, and simply called it "Chester" - from the Latin word for a camp or group of forts: "castra". And there are many other English places with the same sort of origin, adding "-chester" or -"cester" or "-caster" to their name to reference that it was once a Roman stronghold - Chichester, Dorchester, Cirencester, Silchester, Colchester, Doncaster, Manchester among others.

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