No, the other one

For the record, it’s #2480, title “No, The Other One”, and hover text “Key West, Virginia is not to be confused with Key, West Virginia.”

Though “(not a CIDU)” because there isn’t a fundamental mystery or joke to be gotten but missed; there are plenty of questions that can be raised!


  1. It makes me wonder, How many of these were named independently of one another? How many are named after the originals? How many of these actually are the originals?

    For Example: Portland, Maine is less famous than Portland Oregon though the Maine one is what the Oregon one is named after. But Portland, Maine was named after an isle in England so it isn’t strictly original either.

    Place names are weird.

  2. has the full list, complete with some links to Wikipedia for research purposes, but doesn’t have the specific information FBS is asking.

  3. Jamestown California, is an old Gold Rush era town. Jamestown was established in 1848 by Colonel George F. James, a lawyer. He was also know as a scamp and a con man. Nothing to do with Virginia.

  4. I think he only did USA (original) city names, so Paris, TX isn’t on there either. He also skipped Springfield, I suspect because there are, like, 800 of them, and everybody thinks theirs is the main one.

  5. I took a quick glance at the explain site when setting this posting up here, and again just now. I’m not sure, but think it has been updated a bit in the meantime. What I’m going by are how many overseas cities are shown in column 2, “Well-known place”. Though there may have been more last week, there are still a few clear cases, such as Vienna, Austria.

    Which I take as weakening the “domestic connections only” principle. And reinvigorates Danny’s question. It really shouldn’t matter whether the several Oxfords, Athenses, and Troys (etcetera) are named for each other, or European (& Asia Minor) originals.

  6. Troy and Athens, of course, are both in Ohio.

    Athens is hidden under Bridgeport, WV.

    Troy is near Gettysburg and Houston. All three are suburbs of Springfield.

  7. Some of the choices were made for “what fits?” because there are for instance more Miamis than shown, but there’s no room for Miami Ohio or Miami Oklahoma.

  8. I grew up on the East coast and moved to Oregon. A friend of mine is a native Oregonian and I used to kid him about how Oregon couldn’t bother coming up with new city names, instead just copying existing cities. Portland, Dallas, Albany, Salem, Milwaukie (spell check!), etc. He finally had enough and said, “Unlike the East coast which just decided to put New in front of everything? New York, New Jersey, New Hampshire.”

  9. “there are plenty of questions that can be raised!”

    Like what? I guess this is a posting IDU.

    I was rather fond of a coffee shop in Oakland, OR. that had a carousel pony in the middle of its floor and a bar counter and the wooden drawer decour of a turn of the (20th) century candy store.

  10. Apparently there are 20 Manchesters in the US, and no doubt many other places ending that way and in caster, cester, xeter and so on. Whenever I hear of one, I think to myself, ah, so there was a Roman fortification there was there? In Ukland such a suffix is a signifier of such a thing.

  11. California has two cities with the same pronunciation: Claremont & Clairemont. At least they are in different counties.

  12. I was coincidentally wondering about the formation of the NSW state name the other day. It could be as in WW’s clip, parsed [New [South Wales]] with the South specifying a part of the original country in the British Isles; or parsed as [[New & South][Wales]], with the South thrown in because the new place is in the global south.

  13. Dvandom brings up Miami, and I would add that “Miami of Ohio” is the casual way of referring to the institution “Miami University” which is located in … wait for it … the city of Oxford, Ohio. Which is one of several U.S. Oxfords, but didn’t make it onto the XKCD map. As far as I can tell, there is no municipality of Miami, Ohio.

    I don’t know if people in a sports context would speak of “Miami of Florida”, but in any case the institution there with the related name is “University of Miami”, home of the Hurricanes, and mostly located in the city of Coral Gables, Florida, a separate city adjacent to Miami. While we’re there, let me mention that Miami Beach is yet another distinct city; though the name also applies in physical geography to an island, on which the city of Miami Beach and others are located.

  14. I might have gone with Jacksonville, Texas rather than New York, TX. New York is unincorporated and consists almost entirely of a feed store and a Baptist church, it does not even have its own post office.

  15. In some cases, the pronunciation of copycat names is different. Versailles, KY is ver SALES. Milan, Michigan is MY lun. El Dorado, Illinois is el dor AY doh.

    Fun fact: Lincoln, Illinois was named for Lincoln before he became president — he practiced law in the area and had a role in founding the town. Legend has it that when it had been proposed to him that the town be named for him, he had advised against it, saying that in his experience, “Nothing bearing the name of Lincoln ever amounted to much.”

  16. Every year Newark (NU-ark), Delaware, home of the University of Delaware, has a large number of freshmen from Northern New Jersey, who call the town (nu-ERK). It’s an easy way to pick out the newbies.

  17. They didn’t even put in one of my favorites, Cairo, Illinois. It’s pronounced ‘CAY-ro’. I notice that a lot of places named after more famous places tend to change the pronunciation at some point. Hence, New Berlin is pronounced ‘BUR-lin’

  18. But there’s only one Henniker in the world and it’s in New Hampshire. It’s the home of New England College, one of the most generic possible college names.

  19. And Minnesota has a school (St. John’s University) located in Collegeville, one of the most generic possible college location names.

  20. Generic something, not sure what, but a few miles from me here in Somerset (next door to and almost contiguous with the more famous Glastonbury) is a small town called Street, where my father was born* in 1917. It has a High Street, so conceivably there could be a Mr Street, Street & Sons Family Butcher, 47 High Street, Street.

    *technically my father was born in the nearby village of Butleigh, which had the area nursing home/ birthing hospital type of place.

  21. “as the nearby cathedral City of Wells.”


    1b: an incorporated British town usually of major size or importance having the status of an episcopal see (emphasis mine)

    I’ve been to Wells.It is very small. But it has a Cathedral and Bishop. (A great grandcester of mine was a Bishop of Wells.)

  22. Both Cairo and Memphis are named after Egyptian cities along the Nile, so going with the “Mississippi is the American Nile” theme

  23. Frequently “Vienna” cities are pronounced differently than the way we typically do for the Austrian city. In Missouri, it’s Vye-ENN-a. Probably similar in many other instances. We also have a city named Nevada, pronounced “Nuh-VAY-da”.

  24. Avram Davidson has a short story called “They Loved Me in Ithaca” in which a depressed, broken-down, past his prime entertainer is about to go on and weeps to his manager about how he’s past it now, but in his prime, he hit it big in various towns he names. We’re intended to believe from the town names that he’s a vaudeville guy somewhere in upstate New York, but in the last paragraph it’s revealed that this is a long time ago and that the entertainer is Homer, wearily walking out to recite bits from his now-out-of-fashion ILIAD.

    I’m a big Avram Davidson fan.

  25. And Oxford in various states has been a frequent choice for siting colleges. I’m not aware of many Cambridges, apart from the one in MA.

  26. Randall Munroe’s take on maps is always fun. They can be quite creative.

    Wikipedia has compiled a list of locations in the US named after counterparts elsewhere in the country:

    Relating to the shift in pronunciation of foreign names, a small town in northern Illinois named Marseilles is pronounced Mar-
    SALES, and is named after Marseille, France basically just because it sounded cool at the time.

    The Lost In The Pond You Tube channel has several videos addressing place names (in the US and the UK where the host is from) and here he addresses the proliferation of Springfields across the US:

    And for fun, there are a small number of places in the UK that were named after US locations:

  27. There are a lot of Lancasters and Yorks in the US, usually within brick-throwing distance of each other. Most of the original colonies, as well as states with significant Polish populations have Pulaskis, in honor of Count Casimir Pulaski, hero of the American Revolution. Nearly every Pulaski has a different local pronunciation.

  28. I’m a big Avram Davidson fan.

    My favorites are the Limekiller stories set in the barely fictional Central American colony/nation of British Hidalgo. The setting was so picturesque that I would have been happy to read mainstream fiction set there.

  29. Most of the original colonies, as well as states with significant Polish populations have Pulaskis, in honor of Count Casimir Pulaski, hero of the American Revolution. Nearly every Pulaski has a different local pronunciation.

    Here in Chicago we have Pulaski commemorated in a street, statues, schools, a park, a neighborhood designation “Pulaski Park” , and an official holiday:

    And yes, there is disagreement on the pronunciation.

  30. @ Woozy – “A great grandcester of mine was a Bishop of Wells” –

    Interesting. I guess he was a Roman fort too? Ho ho.

    The list is long, going back to 923

    10thC and early 11thC bishops had Tolkienesque old English names, like Ælfwine, Cyneweard and Merewith. They settled down after that & the Norman invasion with fairly standard French names like Robert, William, Henry, Roger and John, and they are still routinely called George, William, John, Edward through the 20thC. The last two have both been called Peter, though there has only been one other Peter before (17thC). No Oscars, Dominics, Jaspers, Chesters, Judes, Masons, Dylans or Hunters yet though.

    The current (acting) incumbent is called Ruth, which is a bit of a new development. Pretty traditional old name though.

  31. I believe the main reason pronunciations changed between namesakes is because foreign pronunciations weren’t well known prior to the advent of voice recording and telecommunications.

  32. I forgot to add, that’s definitively the case with at least one place I know, the Town of Chili, New York (CHIGH-ligh). It was named after the nation of Chile (CHEE-leh) subsequent to their revolution. (They also didn’t know how to spell it. I’m not aware of any influence from the food dish “chili” [CHIL-ee].)

  33. I’ve discovered that many states have a city named “Aurora.” And since none of those Auroras are prominent (or infamous) enough to be known outside of their state, when I mention “Aurora” to an out-of-stater, they automatically think I’m talking about their Aurora.

    It doesn’t even cross their mind that my home state has an Aurora, just as it doesn’t cross mine that their home state has one, too.

  34. Anyone know of more places named “Earlville”? I have found or been to those in NY, IL, and IA.

  35. “He forgot Newark, California, which is pronounced the New Jersey way.”

    They have a Newark in New Jersey?

  36. On the other hand you can make too much of deal about supposed different pronunciation which really isn’t. In California we have an Albany. I remember on Car Talk a woman from Albany, Ca called.

    “Wait, they don’t pronounce it ‘Albany’ as in ‘Albany, New York’, do you? Don’t they pronounce in ‘Albany'”.

    The woman somewhat confused said “I pronounce it ‘Albany'”.


    Point being you pronounce Albany New York and Albany California the exact same way. But how that is pronounced depends on where you are from. Half the people in the bay area pronounce it as ‘Albany’ and the other half pronounce it as ‘Albany’ because people have different speech patterns and half will pronounce the letters A-L as “Al” and the other half will pronounce it as “Al”. It’s not that one is right and the other wrong and that one way is how we pronounce the city in California and the other is how we pronounce the city in New York. It’s that we pronounce both the same and that is differently from each other.

    The difference between “Al” and “Al” is so subtle it will vary between families, generations, between family members, are between a single person from day to day or time of day and few will even notice.

  37. Not quite your point but related: I get mad when people cite regional name variations that are really just local accents. This is like trying to make exceptions after signing on to “Try to say place names the way people who live there say them.”

    So that principle gives us “Wooster” for “Worcester” (in MA), which is a great illustration of how it should work. But the principle has problems. 1) There are multiple speech communities in most places, and they can differ in how they various things, including the names in question. 2) The way the local pronunciation differs from what you would expect as, say, spelling-pronunciation for General American, may clearly and robustly differ in what phonemes are used – as in Wooster-like cases. But what if it’s merely the way local phonology treats all similar words? Are we supposed to be imitating their accents overall??

  38. Amherst, New Hampshire is pronounced Am-herst, but Amherst, Massachusetts, home of Amherst, Smith, Hampshire and Mount Holyoke Colleges and UMass Amherst, is pronounced Ammerst. But sometimes we pronounce cities the same and spell them differently: Merrimac, MA and Merrimack, NH.

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