Place-name Merry-Go-Round 1: POL

Credit: Paul Henjum
Photo in public domain.

I think it’s about time for another foray into Cornish place-names.

We’ll start with the element POL. This according to Padel means: pit, pool, stream, cove or creek. Quite a choice. He remarks drily: “It is often difficult to decide which of the various meanings is present in a particular place-name.”

There are quite a few POL names in these parts. Less than a mile away from here there is a dwelling called Pol Teggan (“beautiful POL”, I think) and about the same distance away is a vineyard called Polgoon (“POL on the moor”). A little further afield there is Polpry (usually glossed as “clay pit”) which has the rather unexpected pronunciation pɒlˈpraɪ. And much further away in north Cornwall there is my favourite, Polyphant (“toad pool”).

Perhaps the best-known POL name is Polperro, which is a very picturesque tourist destination. But more on this name in a later post.

Polperro. Credit: Mick Knapton. Used under this licence.

3 thoughts on “Place-name Merry-Go-Round 1: POL

  1. Just two things:
    1) I love the word Polyphant.
    2) I’m anxious to learn about Polperro (and I promise I’ll restrain my poetic impulses).

  2. Very int·resting but please be so kind as to give us the pronunciation of any name that’s at all ambiguous. I can’t confidently guess even which is the accented syllable of Polyphant for a start.
    I see you’re cunningly keeping Polperro sep·rate from the ‘other’ pol words…

  3. Emilio,

    All will be revealed about Polperro. Please be as poetic as you wish.


    With places that are a long way off I really don’t have any way of finding out what the local pronunciation is. I’m pretty sure that Polperro is pɒlˈperəʊ. Polyphant should be pɒˈlɪfənt/fænt, but I wouldn’t be at all surprised if it had stress on the first syllable instead, under the influence of “elephant”.

    Polgoon is definitely pɒlˈɡuːn.

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