Do you know the meaning behind the names of these cities?
Posted on 27/07/2018 , Modified on 07/08/2018

CultureUnited Arab Emirates

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Sometimes a city's most interesting features are hidden in its name. Take a closer look at the names of these famous metropolises and see them in a new light.

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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". It's most likely in reference to the dhibaa, a type of gazelle that once populated the region.

  • 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 Amstel River. Translated literally, Amsterdam means 'the dam of the Amstel'.

  • Athens

    It only takes basic knowledge of Greek mythology to find the origin of the name of Greece's capital city. Athena is the goddess of wisdom and war.

  • Bordeaux

    Many historians disagree on the origins of the name Bordeaux, but the area's first inhabitants gave it the name Burdigala. Even the etymology of this name is disputed, but it's possible that Bordeaux was derived from it.

  • Dubai

    Another city with a disputed name is Dubai. It may refer to the tributary that splits the city in two, or it could be a diminuitive of the Arabic word for locust. This area used to be just a swampy fishing town at the edge of the desert.


From Paris to Tokyo, Istanbul to New York, the names of the world's biggest cities are full of significance. Whether influenced by geography, history or tradition, these names we use without thinking do in fact make a lot of sense. Take a look at the meanings behind the names of these 25 famous cities.

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