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A Dictionary of English Place-Names.

Mills's dictionary is an important addition to English place-name literature. Using t he Post- 1974 counties as its terms of reference, it treats over 12,000 names, and, as one might expect from a specialist of Mills's calibre, most of its etymologies can be accepted without any further discussion. There is an excellent short introduction and an appendix of elements.

Mills normally cites only one or two early forms usually an Old English form, if available, and the Domesday Book form. The latter is not always the best early form, and its use can sometimes be a source of confusion. Occasionally Mills is a trifle too uncritical in following his predecessors. Like Ekwall's Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Place-Names (DEPN) and the English Place-Name Society's survey of Cumberland, he takes CLEATOR [MOOR] (Cumbria) to contain ON klettr |rock, cliff', although the early forms show it to contain ME elete |burdock'. Again, following DEPN, Mills takes the first element of DRINKSTONE (Suffolk) to be an OE personal name, *Dremic. The early forms indicate that it is rather a Scandinavian personal name, ON Drengr, ODan Drang. His interpretation of TELLISFORD (Som.) as containing either OE *tefli |flat or level place' or an Old English personal name, Theabul, corresponds to that of A. H. Smith's English Place-Name Elements. The form tefieford' (rendered by Mills as |Tefleforth'), which is contained in the boundary clause attached to a charter of 1001 (Sawyer 899, MS 1; s. xv), shows the first element to be the dative singular of OE tafl %.c teft f. |gaming board', here used in a topographical sense. The personal name form Theabul, noted in an original charter of 697 (Sawver 19, MS 1), does not belong here, but stands for OE *Peofol, -ul. Both DEPN and Mills take the first element of THEMELTHORPE (Norfolk) to be a personal name (OE *Pymel or ON *Pymli/*Pymill), but the early forms suggest that we are rather concerned with the appellative OE pymel m. |thimble', here doubtless an allusion to the size of the settlement. Again, like DEPN and the English Place-Name Society's survey of Northamptonshire, Mills gives the first element of TITCHMARSH (Northants.) as OE Tiecea, instead of the correct Tyccea which occurs in the witness clause of a charter of 755 x 757 in the formula manus. tyccaean abbalis (Sawver 96, MS of c. 800). Similarly, he follows DEPN in taking the first element of WIMBOTSHAM (Norfolk) to be either OE Winebald or Continental Germanic Winebaud. The latter can be ruled out, since Continental Germanic (Frankish, Old Saxon, Old High German) personal names do not occur as the first elements of Old English place-names in -ham, and we are concerned here with either OE Winebald or OE Wyn(n)band. Finally, one might ask why Mills takes WINENHOE (Essex) and WIVETON (Norfolk) to contain an Old English masculine personal name, *Wifa. From a semantic point of view, a feminine *Wife, a hypocoristic form of OE *Wifrun or the like, would seem more appropriate.

On the whole, however, Mills has provided us with a most useful modern compact dictionary. at a reasonable price. Its etymologies are generally sound, and it is sure to find wide acceptance in both academic and lay circles.
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Author:Insley, John
Publication:Medium Aevum
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Sep 22, 1992
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