Is there a word/concept for a word that denotes a place but is not a proper name? As far as I understand toponyms are always proper nouns, so words such as "area", "playground", "hill" and "place" are not toponyms. Here and there I have seen the phrase "geographical common word". That is the closest I can come.

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    onomastics has tons of sub-categories. Just for water, check out the term hydronym: helonyms: proper names of swamps, marshes and bogs,[2] limnonyms: proper names of lakes and ponds,[3] oceanonyms: proper names of oceans,[4] pelagonyms: proper names of seas and maritime bays,[5] potamonyms: proper names of rivers and streams.[6] But they are all proper names.
    – Lambie
    Commented Apr 19, 2022 at 18:20
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    I believe I have seen generic used for a part of a name that is also a common noun applicable to the named place; that is, in “Draper Avenue”, “Avenue” is the generic. Commented May 2, 2022 at 5:07

1 Answer 1


Sometimes we see metonymy, e.g., the Valley for "Silicon Valley". But I don't know any established term for recurring parts of geographical names ... maybe topographical feature for features like mountains, lakes, rivers, swamps, cities etc.

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