In England, there's a town called Pendle Hill, and in Connecticut, there's a place called Pendleton Hill. Let's break down those names! Originally, Pendle was spelled either pennul or penhul, a toponym which was formed in the 12th or 13th century. The first component is pen, which was the Cumbric (a Brittonic language) word for "hill", and the second bit, hul, traces to Old English hyll, which also meant "hill" and is obviously the etymon of the word hill itself (this, through Proto-Germanic huliz, meaning "stone", comes from Proto-Indo-European kollem, "rock"). You can kind of see where I'm going here: Pendle Hill actually translates into "hill hill hill". While this may seem like the ultimate redundancy, Pendleton Hill is possibly even more so. One etymological theory is that -ton (meaning "town", of course) comes from the Old English word dun, meaning "hill". Although there are other possibilities, "hill hill hill hill" would make it the most whimsical place name there is.
Adam Aleksic is a 221-month-old, 2800-ounce high school senior with disturbing interests in etymology, vexillology, geography, board games, limericks, and law. Adam will be studying linguistics at Harvard University in the fall.
The Etymology Nerd