A canton in vexillology is the top left rectangle in a flag, a canton in geography is a division of Switzerland, and then there are cities named Canton in places as far apart as China and Ohio. The Chinese Canton, which more frequently goes by Guangzhou nowadays, is a Portuguese garbling of the local name Guangdong. The Ohio city and most other towns named Canton all are named after the place in China. The other two, lowercase canton definitions derive from a Middle French word which could mean either "portion of a country" or "corner". That traces to a Lombard word, cantone, which meant "section" and further comes from Latin cantus, or "rim". Because of cognates in Breton, Irish, and Welsh, it's thought that this was borrowed by the Romans from the Gauls, who used the reconstructed Proto-Celtic root kantos, also "corner" or "rim".
Hello! I'm Adam Aleksic, a senior studying government and linguistics at Harvard University, where I co-founded the Harvard Undergraduate Linguistics Society. In addition to etymology, I also really enjoy trivia, politics, vexillology, geography, board games, conlanging, art history, and law.