masc. proper name, also a surname (late 12c.), from an Old French word meaning "to cross over," related to traverse (v.). Probably a name for a gatekeeper or the toll collector of a bridge.
in bridge/whist, a hand with no card above a nine, 1874, said to be so called for an unnamed Earl of Yarborough who bet 1,000 to 1 against its occurrence.
city in eastern England, Old English Grontabricc (c. 745) "Bridge on the River Granta" (a Celtic river name, of obscure origin). The change to Cante- and later Cam- was due to Norman influence. The river name Cam is a back-formation in this case, but Cam also was a legitimate Celtic river name, meaning "crooked." The university dates to 1209. Cambridge in Massachusetts, U.S., originally was New Towne but was renamed 1638 after the founding there of Harvard College, John Harvard being a graduate of Cambridge in England.
town in Germany, first recorded 993 as Poztupimi; the name is Slavic, the first element is po "by near," the second element evidently was influenced by Dutch names in -dam. The Potsdam Conference of the victorious Allies in World War II was held July 17-Aug. 2, 1945, to decide the fate of Germany. During the Cold War, the town was in the Soviet sector and the bridge there across the Havel was one of the restricted border crossings between East Germany and West Berlin. The Americans and the Soviets used it for the exchange of captured spies.
1864, name given by English zoologist Philip L. Sclater (1829-1913) to an ancient continent or land bridge, now sunk in the Indian Ocean, connecting Africa, Madagascar, India, and Southeast Asia, which he hypothesized to explain the geographical distribution of mammals around it, especially the lemur, hence the name (with -ia). The premise was considered scientifically untenable by 1880 and the phenomena now are accounted for otherwise, but Lemuria in some ways by chance anticipated Gondwanaland (1896) in the continental drift model.
Earlier Lemuria was the name of the Roman feast of the Lemures, evil spirits of the dead in Roman mythology. The head of each household ritually exorcised them every 9th, 11th, and 13th of May. Related: Lemurian
chief city and capital of England, Latin Londinium (Tacitus, c. 115), according to the "Cambridge Dictionary of English Place-Names," "unexplained." It is often said to be "place belonging to a man named *Londinos," a supposed Celtic personal name meaning "the wild one," "but this etymology is rejected in an emphatic footnote in Jackson 1953 (p. 308), and we have as yet nothing to put in its place" [Margaret Gelling, "Signposts to the Past: Place-Names and the History of England," Chichester, 1978]. Its mythical history is told in Layamon's "Brut" (c. 1200).
In late Old English often with -burg, -wic, or -ceaster. As an adjective, Old English had Lundenisc, but this seems to have fallen from use, and modern Londonish (1838) probably is a re-coinage. Also Londony (1884); Londonesque (1852); Londinensian (George Meredith); Londonian (1824, marked "rare" in OED).
London Bridge the children's singing game is attested from 1827. London broil "large flank steak broiled then cut in thin slices" attested 1930s, American English; London fog first attested 1785.