How do you say "Bloomington" in Latin?

I figure that the text of a Latin diploma for a degree granted in Bloomington would likely be authoritative, but I haven't found one yet. This nice old book, Latin in the Latin Class: A List of Convenient Words and Expressions, written in 1917 by a professor of Latin at Indiana University in Bloomington aiming to encourage students to speak conversational Latin in class, mentions the university but not the town. Vicipædia seems to contain no lead to a precedent, though someone seems to have tossed out Bloomingtonia (unsourced) on this page.

Ideally, an answer will point out some precedent in prior Latin usage. I figure that many people before me must have needed a word for this town and probably established some sort of consensus. When the university started teaching in 1825, it taught only Latin and Greek. If I have to settle for a newly invented calque, though, I will. A phonetic translation might be fine, too. (That's what I'd expect to find on a diploma from 1890 anyway.) If you make up a word, please be sure to mention something about analogous precedents in the Latin names of other cities, if you can.

By the way, Wikipedia lists 27 cities in North America all named Bloomington.

  • I notice that in Aristoteles Latinus, one of the volumes listed is discribed as being in the Bloomingtonensis library. I would think it would be spelt Bloomingtonienses if the name of the town were Bloomingtonia. So that leaves Bloomingtona, or Bloomingtonum, or indeclinable Bloomington, or something. I guess Bloomingtona strikes me as most likely, with an indeclinable name as next most likely.
    – Figulus
    Sep 4, 2023 at 4:41

4 Answers 4


The trouble with forms like Florentia and Hepatopolis is that nobody is going to connect them with the English names unless they've been clued in (well, they might for Hepatopolis, but that would be kind of a joke). I know I don't automatically think of blooming [flowers] when I hear the name Bloomington.

In my mind, there are clear precedents in the established forms of Boston and Houston, Bostonia and Hustonia, resp., thus Blumingtonia. (I think it's better to slightly Latinize the "oo" to "u", just as Hustonia does.)


I would second Tom Cotton’s suggestions of Bloomingtona or Blumingtona. Bloomingtonia or Blumingtonia doesn't seem incorrect either. (If you want to completely assimilate the word to Latin phonotactics—which I don't think is necessary—you could simplify the consonant cluster "ngt" to "nt".) One argument I can think of in favor of using "-tonia" is that English speakers already use "Bloomingtonian" as an adjective, like "Bostonian" or "Houstonian". But on the other hand, English is not Latin.

Note: I am still a beginner in Latin so I have no expertise with regard to this; all of this has been a guess based on a list of Latin place-names I found and other Google research. Please take it accordingly.

Medieval Latin: An Introduction and Bibliographical Guide, edited by F.A.C. Mantello and A.G. Rigg, has a chapter titled "Morphology and Syntax" (by A.G. Rigg) that says that the morphology of place names in Medieval Latin was often "arbitrary" and suggests that the commonly-used feminine suffix -ia may have been "originally seen as an adjectival ending agreeing with urbs or prouincia understood (e.g. Cantuaria, 'Canterbury', Abandonia, 'Abingdon')" (p. 84).

I found a large “List of the Latin Names of Places in Great Britain and Ireland” online; I’m not sure of its sourcing (so it might not be reliable) but a few of the names I checked were corroborated by other sources, so I’m tentatively assuming that it is reliable and only lists terms with some kind of attested use, not ones that are entirely questionable suggestions for neologisms.

I haven’t found any rule for whether to use “-tona” or “tonia” in the Latinization of English place names ending in “-ton”. As varro pointed out, “Bostonia” and “Hustonia” are used, but the list I linked to in the previous paragraph seems to have slightly more examples of “-tona” (e.g. "Chingestona" – Kingston and "Cunctona" – Compton). A document I found while Googling lists the additional variants of “-thonia” (found in “Conthonia”, an alternative name for Compton) and “-tuna” (found in “Stoctuna”, a name for Stoughton) (Sussex Archaeological Collections Relating to the History and Antiquities of the County, published by the Sussex Archaeological Society, Vol. XL). While variation between “th” and “t” and “o” and “u” could be attributed merely to the less fixed nature of orthography in past times, I don’t think the variation between “ia” and “a” can be as easily dismissed as purely graphical.

Here is a (not necessarily complete) list of Latin place names I found in the list corresponding to English place-names ending in “-ton”:


  • Chingestona (Kingston)
  • Cunctona (Compton, Sussex)
  • Gaidingtona, Gaingtona (Geddington)
  • Hunegetona (Honington or Hunnington, Staffordshire)
  • Karintona (Catherington, Hants)
  • Mucletona (Mickleton)
  • Stiuentona (Staunton, Gloucestershire)
  • Waldintona (Waldington, Yorks)
  • Cleituna (Clayton, Sussex)
  • Mealtuna (Malton, Yorks)
  • Tornetuna (Thornton, Yorks)
  • Ethona (Nuneaton, which was earlier simply “Etone” according to Wikipedia)


  • Bramptonia (Brampton)

  • Glastonia, Gleastonia, Glestonia (Glastonbury)

  • Rugnitunia, Ruitonia (Ryton-upon-Dunsmoor, Warwickshire)

  • Wiltonia (Wilton; Wilts)

  • Conthonia (Compton; not in the list but in the cited book)

  • Bostonia (Boston; not in the list)

  • Hustonia (Houston; not in the list).

    Note: it may be relevant that the city of "Houston" was named after Sam Houston, whose name might not have been etymologically connected to the "-ton" suffix found in many other English city names. Thus, it seems possible to me that the Latin name "H(o)ustonia" should be compared to names like "Columbia" from the personal name "Columbus".

either -tonia or -tona/-tuna:

  • Hamptonia, Hamtona (Southampton; Northampton; Hampton)
  • Northamptonia, Northantonia, Northamtuna (Northampton)


  • Varingtonium (Warrington, Lancashire)

    This is weird and I don't know how to explain it, but it doesn't seem to be a typo. Possibly compare "Vasingtonium", listed on Wikipedia "List of Latin names of cities", but called "quite odd" by somebody on the talk page.


  • Burgodunum (Burton, Staffordshire)
  • Castrodunum (Chesterton, Cambridgeshire)
  • Dorpendunum (Orpington, Kent)
  • Ellandunum (Allington, near Amesbury, or Wilton, in Wilts)
  • Repandunum (Repton)
  • Spinodunum (Thornton, Lincolnshire)
  • Sturodunum (Stourton, and Stourminster, Dorset)
  • Tanodunum, Thenodunum (Taunton, Somerset)
  • Venantodunum (Huntingdon)

I don’t know if the use of “-dunum” is due to contamination from names with “-down” and “-don”. Wikipedia says:

Dunum was a Latinized nameplace in ancient Ireland and the name of at least two recorded settlements there, one in the far north, one in the far south. [...] As a word, Dunum is very similar to words for fortifications and measurements, and sometimes used as a suffix or prefix in placenames to note the presence of fortification.

Interestingly, it seems it is thought to be derived from a Celtic word cognate with “town”. It seems to me that “-dunum”, although relatively common as a final element in established Latin place names, would not be a good choice for Latinizing the names of cities or towns that were named in modern times.

In terms of Latinization of the rest of the name:

  • as varro pointed out, “oo” could be changed to “u” (which I assume would be pronounced as ū /uː/)

  • The letter-sequence “ngt”, which does not occur in Latin, might also be changed. Although “nct” seems to me the closest equivalent in sound, I don’t know of any examples of "ngt" being Latinized this way, so I wouldn’t recommend it. Instead, simplifying the cluster to “nt” seems to have some precedent, as well as simply retaining it as “ngt”:


  • Gaidingtona, Gaingtona (Geddington)
  • Varingtonium (Warrington, Lancashire)


  • Karintona (Catherington, Hants)
  • Waldintona (Waldington, Yorks)

I would just ignore the "weird" examples in the list of Godritona (Codrington) and Hunegetona (Honington/Hunnington).

Incidentally, http://geonames.enacademic.com/12172/Bloomington lists "Blumingtona" as one of the names of "Bloomington" in another language, but it doesn't specify which one! Googling it seems to show that it is used in Serbian (example: I Kodi Zeler spreman za NBA : Nakon Viktora Oladipa, i druga zvezda tima iz Blumingtona odlučila se za NBA ligu) and possibly some other Slavic languages, also some Baltic languages such as Latvian (https://lv.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blūmingtona_(Indiāna)).

  • Now that's what I call precedents!! Very informative. Your idea that -ia is a customary way to make a place name from a person's name sounds very plausible. Vasingtonia (also Vasintonia) seems to fit this. Or even Washingtonia, as suggested by this diploma.
    – Ben Kovitz
    Jul 8, 2017 at 5:05

I'm not sure if this works, but perhaps this is an idea worth sharing.

Compound city names don't tend to sound authentic in Latin, so I don't even want to try to translate "blooming town" into Latin. I believe the -ton in Bloomington has its origin in the word "town", but I have not confirmed it in this particular case.

It would also be possible to treat "Bloomington" or some spelling variant as a Latin word, but I want to do something different.

One possible verb for blooming is florere. And, what is fortunate, there is already an established city name related to it: Florentia. The US is littered with city names borrowed from Europe, so adding a Florence in Indiana doesn't seem so exceptional, even if the English name is quite different. To make sure no one is thinking of Tuscany, you could call it Florentia Indianae and drop the genitive when the context is clear enough.

In my experience such specifications are usually given by a demonym in plural genitive. In this case it might lead to Indianorum which can be misleading. Perhaps Indianensium would be safer, but I am not sure of the correct demonym, so I chose to use the name of the state instead.

  • 2
    -ing, -ton, are first wave Anglo-Saxon; -ingham, -ington, second wave. Invasions which quarried Roman buildings, overran settlements, but later adopted Latin as officialese.
    – Hugh
    Jul 7, 2017 at 13:14

For myself, I might prefer Bloomingtona as a simple 1st decl. proper noun — or maybe Blumingtona to forestall criticism of the double-o. Or you might base your decision on the idea of Joonas Ilmavirta and go for something more 'Latiny', like Florentina.

I don't think it really matters too much. If you can't find a precedent in the place itself and its records, the best thing is to take the plunge and invent something plausible. A few weeks ago I decided to call Liverpool Hepatopolis and its inhabitants Hepatopolitani, and shall not lose any sleep over the inevitable sniping when it appears in print. No matter how artful you are, no matter how good are your intentions, just be prepared for objections!

  • 1
    Ha! Hepatopolis is great! I look forward to the day when your work containing it enters the disputatio on Vicipædia as another precedent that they must cite. For taking Bloomington straight into Latin, any thought on Bloomingtonia vs. Bloomingtona? Are there other cities where English -ton became Latin tona?
    – Ben Kovitz
    Jul 7, 2017 at 13:56
  • @BenKovitz I've never discovered a rule — I don't think one exists — but a plain -ona is probably best: Kingstona, etc. The -onia ending is used, I think, mostly for botanical names like Wellingtonia.
    – Tom Cotton
    Jul 7, 2017 at 14:33

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