Do you know the meaning behind the names of these cities?
Posted on 01/04/2017

CultureUnited Arab Emirates

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Sometimes a city's biggest secret is hidden in its name. But take a closer look at the names of these famous metropoles and all will be revealed!

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  • Abu Dhabi
    Abu Dhabi

    In Arabic, the name of the capital of the United Arab Emirates means 'Father of the Gazelle', most likely in reference to the animals that populate the emirate.

  • Amsterdam

    You don't need to dig too deep to find the meaning behind the name Amsterdam. It refers to the 'dam' on which the city was constructed along the River Amstel. So literally translated, Amsterdam means 'the dam of the Amstel'.

  • Athens

    It only takes a basic knowledge of Greek mythology to find the origin of the name of Greece's capital city. The goddess of wisdom, war and craft was called Athena.

  • Bordeaux

    The old name for this French city was Burdigala. By chopping the word up, we find the words 'burd' (muddy) and 'gala' (creek). So the name Bordeaux would originally have meant 'the creek in the marshes or wetlands'.

  • Dubai

    Dubai was named for a type of grasshopper, or locust, which thrives in this desert region. Its Arabic name is 'dibba'.


From Paris to Tokyo, London to New York, the names of the world's biggest cities are full of significance. Whether influenced by geography, history or tradition, names we use without thinking do in fact make a lot of sense.

Take a look at the real meanings behind the names of these 28 famous cities. No more secrets...

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