This map shows the etymological family tree of the name of the city of York. The origin of the name is not certain, but this is considered a probable option.


The reconstructed word *eburos of the Proto-Celtic language meant the yew tree. The Brythonic languages formed a place name by adding the suffix -ākon which denotes a place. Its meaning is therefore 'place of the yew trees'. The Romans borrowed the word in Latinised form as Eborācum. The Anglo-Saxons borrowed it further into Old English, but confused it with the Old English word for a wild boar, eofor. The ending wīċ means a village, so the name was at this point 'Boar town'. When the Vikings conquered the town in 866, its name changed to the Scandinavian form Jórvík. When the Normans arrived to England in the 11th century, the name gradually changed to its modern form, York.

In the Celtic languages the name Eborākon developed on its own, and produced the Welsh Efrog or Caer Efrog (caer = 'fortified city'), Irish Eabhrac, and Gaelic Eabhraig.

Eburos + eofor

This map shows the family tree of the words eburos and eofor.

Click on the image to see it in full size.


The Proto-Celtic *eburos and its descendants mean the yew tree, but in Welsh (efwr) and Breton (evor) its meaning is 'alder buckthorn'.

The Proto-Indo-European *epəros and its descendants mean the wild boar. Its still in use in Dutch (ever), German (Eber), and many Slavic languages, but the Old English eofor and Old Norse jǫfurr fell out of use.


*A form reconstructed by comparing the languages descended from the ancestor language
Extinct language with written sources (unlike the ones marked with *)
-Separates a derivational suffix from the original stem. In the end of a word indicates a missing nominative ending.
dashed lineBorrowing
greenItalic languages
magentaCeltic languages
redGermanic languages
blueBalto-Slavic languages

Published 4/5/2014


Aper. Wiktionary. en.wiktionary.org/.... Fetched 4/5/2014.

Eboracum. Wikipedia. en.wikipedia.org/.... Fetched 4/5/2014.

Eofor. Wiktionary. en.wiktionary.org/.... Fetched 4/5/2014.

Eoforwic. Wiktionary. en.wiktionary.org/.... Fetched 4/5/2014.

Jórvík. Wiktionary. en.wiktionary.org/.... Fetched 4/5/2014.

Wild boar. Wiktionary. en.wiktionary.org/.... Fetched 4/5/2014.

York. Wiktionary. en.wiktionary.org/.... Fetched 4/5/2014.

York. Wikipedia. en.wikipedia.org/.... Fetched 4/5/2014.

Source and license of the maps

Menegaz, Felipe. 2008. World map (Miller cylindrical projection, blank). Wikimedia Commons. commons.wikimedia.org/.... Fetched 20/10/2012.

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