The name Beijing combines the Chinese words bei, meaning "north", and jing, meaning "capital", for an overall meaning of "northern capital". This name was coined by the Ming emperor Zhu Di so as to contrast to Nanjing, the "southern capital". Together, Beijing and Nanjing served as the two administrative cities of the Chinese empire... until a series of political changes left us with just the northern capital being the actual capital. Something similar was happening in Japan: Kyoto used to be the capital, so its name literally means "capital" (kyo) "city" (to). However, when Tokyo was chosen to replace it, they named it "eastern" (to) "capital" (kyo). The two tos mean different things. My final secretly redundant capital is that of Kazakhstan- the city of Astana has a name literally meaning "capital city" as well, deriving from a Persian word for "threshold". Fascinating!
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.