Algonquian Descriptors in New England Place Names

Some Algonquian Descriptors Used in New England Place Names

Following are some examples of how syllabic descriptive phonemes are used in the construction of Algonquian place names, keeping in mind that there are, as always, questions of accuracy as well as alternative spellings and interpretations.

Algonquian Variations Meaning Examples  
adin ahdin, aden Mountain, hill, highland, height Katahdin, Winniahdin. Monadnoc  
adum ogum, ogun, ammun, bun dune, bank, sand bar, gravel bar Kennebunk, Ogunquit  
kenne- kenni-, quine, quinni long Kennebec, Kennebunk
quit quet, ket pool, lagoon Ogunquit  
bec bic, pec quiet water Kennebec
ponqui ponka shallow Ponkapau  
paug pog, baug, boag pond Ponkapaug  
sau(k) saco, saug river outlet, estuary Saugus, Winnipesauke,
-s -s-, -us, -es,

-ux-

small, little Saugus  
win winni vicinity (of), around, near Winnipesauke,Winnebago, Winniahdin  
nebes Bes, bis, bego, bago lake Winnebago  
-pe -pe-, -pee,    -ippi, -p waters Winnipesauke, Mashpee, Sunapee, Chicopee, Mississippi  
mash ash, ashue between Mashpee  
sun suna, assin, asson, assa rocky Sunapee  
chico chica, chika rapid Chicopee  
mack mac, maq, mic, mec, muck river Merrimack  
merri mer, mur deep; also sturgeon Merrimack  
tuck tuc, tik, tic, tick, tek(w) tidal river or stream Pawtucket, Pentucket, Mistick  
pa paw, pau falls Pawtucket  
pen pinna winding, bending Pentucket  
et it, ut, ot, ott,  -t at, near, about

 

Pawtucket, Pentucket, Massachuset, Swampscott  
mass massa, mash, messa big, large Massachuset  
hass hassun, ashim, shim, asnun stone, stoney Cohasset  
co coo, ko-, -co, -acco continuous area, ongoing, abundant Cohasset, Pennacook, Chebacco  
chebe- cheba-, chebac, chappa- separate, in between Chebacco
keag keak, kik, ki, ke, -ik, -k, -ic, -oc, og land, area, place Amoskeag, Naumkeag, Pennacook  
namas nemas, anam, anas, anis, nam, naum, na-, ne-, amo(s), amaug fish, fishing Naumkeag, Amoskeag  
mis mish, mi, misi, missi, meshe great (repeated = very great) Mishawam, Mistick, Mississippi  
adchu achu, watchu, chus mountain Massachuset, Wachuset  
shawm shaum, shawam, shawom neck of land, peninsula; also canoe landing Shawmut, Mishawam
squi squa, swa, sw- red Swampscott  
ompsk ompsc, ampsc rock Swampscott