Goop Spring, Klamath County OR
Hey, what is this GOOP doing in the springwater?
Either there was something goopy in the spring, or possibly derived from a native word (in traditional Klamath territory).
Yourname Creek, Montana, Powell County
Ran out of ideas for naming things, I guess.
Hey, pretty smoky around here.
Pot Head Maine, Washington County
A headland shaped like a pot, I assume.
And even when they moved the town they kept the Peculiar Name.
Peculiar Missouri, Cass County.
Proud of their uniqueness, maybe?
Not far from Mickey Lake and Minnie Corners.
Goofy Ridge Illinois, Mason County
Humor, foreign name, comment, who knows?
Charlie Brown was here!
Good Grief Idaho, Boundary County
Someone being funny, I guess.
OK, not going there.
Bad Marriage Mountain, Glacier National Park Montana
Hard to even hazard a guess.
Oh, Crapo, we’re supposed to swim in that?
Crapo Lake, Otsego County Minnesota
Probably from the French word for toad, which is “crapaud.”
Murderkill River, Delaware, Kent County.
Kinda “overkill” I think! The riverside hamlet of “Little Heaven” is a nice touch.
“Kill” endings refer to streams, and murder probably meant just that.
Which name would be better for our new subdivision?
Maggotty Creek, joining Stinking River, in Pittsylvania County VA
Origin: Maggotty may be a surname, river probably was stinking (dead fish, or sulpher, or something like that?).
How do funny place names happen?
We’ve all seen funny place names (and if you want to see more, this blog is the right place).
But how do these places get these names?
There are many ways but I thought I would hit a few that explain many of the ones I have shown maps of here:
- Sometimes a regional usage combines with other words to seem humorous to people, usually people from other areas. Examples include the many features that use “Lick” to mean a feature with mineral content that attracts animals. This might be a salt spring or creek with clay banks. When combined with other English words it can sound risqué, as is the case in “Big Bone Lick.” “Johnsons Cutoff” is an example as well, where cutoff is a regional reference to an rerouted stream with a shorter path than the original.
- Often words have changed in meaning and the new meaning is what makes the place name funny. It may be modern slang or simply a completely new usage. A classic example is the feature named “Gay Head” in Massachusetts, where both parts of the name have modern meanings. Places named “Intercourse” are also in this class.
- Words from another language can sound funny to our ears. This is especially true in the case of words that were written down by people who didn’t know the language the words were in, so they adjust it to be more familiar. Examples include “Kaka, Arizona” and “Chunky, Mississippi.”
- A personal name that is also a word can lead to unintentional humor. The aforementioned “Johnsons Cutoff,” the many examples with “Hooker” (“Hookers Hole”, “Hookers Cemetery”), and “Bong State Recreation Area” are all good examples.
- Intentional humor might lead to some place names, such as “Ugly Mountain” or “Fleatown.” Once-remote areas settled by predominantly male working men with coarse senses of humor leads to places such as “Squaw Tit Mountain” and “Stinkfinger Creek.”
- Sometimes the place name is only funny due to a personal interpretation (mine for example). An example is “Sandy Bottom Overlook” which might seem pedestrian, but when I follow it with my comment “Look, you can see the nude beach from here” it seems funnier, to me at least.
I hope this is of some value to you as you look at my map excerpts and comments! Yell if you can think of other reasons.
This a tough hill to climb.
Bitch Mountain, Essex County, New York
Origin: Likely something involving a female dog.
Man, it’s easy to get an “A” here!
Slack School, Wyoming, Sheridan County
Origin: From someones name, possibly?
We don’t need any mental health professionals around here.
Self Help Hollow, Idaho, Franklin County
Origin: Some incident I guess.