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A name used in a particular language for a geographical feature outside the area where that language is spoken, and differing in its form from the name used in an official language of that area where the feature is located. For example, Warsaw is the English exonym for Warszawa; Vienna is the English exonym for the German and Austrian Wien.

See also:


From the Greek, "from" + "name"

Examples and Observations:

  • "[T]he English language exonym Mecca has been shown to be unacceptable to many Arab experts, who are uncomfortable with any alteration to the toponym of the holy place Makkah."
    (Paul Woodman, "Exonyms: A Structural Classification and a Fresh Approach," in Exonyms and the International Standardisation of Geographical Names, ed. by Adami Jordan, et al. LIT Verlag, 2007)

  • "There are three main reasons for the existence of exonyms. The first is historical. In many cases explorers, unaware of existing place names, or colonisers and military conquerors unmindful of them, gave names in their own languages to geographical features having native names . . ..

    "The second reason for exonyms stems from problems of pronunciation. . . .

    "There is a third reason. If a geographical feature extends over more than one country it may have a different name in each."
    (Naftali Kadmon, "Toponymy--Theory and Practice of Geographical Names," in Basic Cartography for Students and Technicians, ed. by R. W. Anson, et al. Butterworth-Heinemann, 1996)

  • "English uses relatively few exonyms for European cities, especially ones it has come up with on its own (= not borrowed); this may be explained by geographic isolation. This could also explain the low number of exonyms that other languages use for English cities."
    (Jarno Raukko, "A Linguistic Classification of Eponyms," in Exonyms, ed. by Adami Jordan, et al. 2007)
Pronunciation: EK-so-nim

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