Place Names: New Destinations

January 13, 2010 Linda Rosenkrantz

Feeling that geographical names have become kind of ho-hum?  It’s true that many people have tired of Paris and some of the over-visited names from the American West like Cheyenne, Sierra, Dakota and Dallas.  But that’s no reason to write off the whole category—we can renew our passports and look a bit farther afield for some fresher, more interesting and exotic choices from the global atlas.


AILSA  —  Ailsa Craig is the name of a rocky island off Scotland, and Ailsa has long been used as a Christian name–as all of us namberryites well know

ÁLORA—  A picturesque Spanish town near Malága, overlooking citrus orchards and olive groves

ANDORRA  —  A small country located in the Pyranees—could work as an updated Andrea

CORTINACortina d’Ampezzo is one of the most famous and beautiful ski resorts in Italy; a more feminine namesake for Courtney?

ELANORA –This name of an Australian suburb is used as a girls’ name in that country

ELBA—The Italian island best known as the site of Napoleon’s exile; possible update of Ella?

GENOA –Picturesque birthplace of Christopher Columbus, native version is GENOVA; a possible newer path to the Gen nickname

IBIZA  (ih-BEETH-a)—Another interesting island name, though a little bit lispy

ISCHIA (IS-key-a)—An Isla-like Italian island name

JAVA — This Indonesian island name was recently used by Lost hunk Josh Holloway for his daughter

LILLE —  (LEELE) –We’ve seen the growing popularity of double-L names, now here’s a French city with three of them

LIXA –An old Portuguese city with a modern-sounding name

LULEÅ — A city on the northern coast of Sweden; birthplace of the founder of the Nordstrom department store chain

LUCERNE –A Swiss canton and lake name, with the possibility of a Lucy nickname

LUZA – A Russian town on the Luza river—but too much like loser?

MAJORCA  (my-OR-ca) — One of the most elegant and fashionable of the Spanish Balearic Islands

ODESSA —  The name of a Ukranian port city inspired by Homer’s ‘Odyssey’

QUINTANA  — Quintana Roo is a Mexican state in the Yucatan Peninsula and is one of the prettiest Q  possibilities

RAVENNA –Italian city known for its Byzantine mosaics makes an appealingly feminine choice

TAVIRA —  An attractive town in the Algarve area of Portugal; a possible namesake for a Great-Aunt Vera?

TRALEE– The county seat of Kerry, Ireland, associated with the old song “The Rose of Tralee”

VALENCIAOrange-scented Spanish city name

VALLETTA – the capital city of Malta, as well as being the surname of  glamorous model/actress Amber

VERONA –home town of Romeo & Juliet


ARRAN  —  A Scottish island with a wide diversity of landscapes; possibility of being confused with Aaron

BELLO  — A sizable city in Colombia

BRECON  —  A historic market town in Wales; similar to saint’s name Breccan

CADIZ —  A Spanish coastal province known for its windswept beaches, white villages and celebrated sherry.

CARLOW – An Irish county and city on the River Barrow

DONEGAL – Another of the traditional counties of Ireland

DURANGO –City in Mexico founded in 1565

ENNIS —  an ancient and picturesque town in County Clare

GUERNSEYChannel Islands name that is also a surname and occasionally used as a first; might be used for a girl as well

MALMÖ —  The third largest city in Sweden

MALO  — SaintMalo, France is a walled city in Brittany on the English Channel, named for the saint who founded it

OVAR —  A small city in Portugal

PERTH – The capital city of Western Australia

THANE —  A city in India near Mumbai, as well as the word used in ancient Scotland for a hereditary king (see Macbeth)

TOULOUSE  –a thriving city in southern France; a name associated with artist Lautrec

VIGO  — the largest city in Galicia, Spain

YORK – a beautiful historic city in North Yorkshire


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