There are 21 cities and towns named Rochester in 17 American states, Canada, and Australia. All of these are named after Rochester, a city in Kent, England. But where does that name come from? Let's start with the suffix -chester, which you've certainly seen in many city names. That and -cester always come from the Old English word ceaster, which means "Roman camp", so all cities with names like Leicester, Westchester, Worcester, and so on (just some examples I could think of) were either colonized by the Romans or are named after cities colonized by the Romans. Meanwhile, the stem of the word comes from the Old English word Hrofes, which is the possessive of the name Hrofi. So Rochester means "Hrofi's Roman camp"... except it doesn't. Turns out that the scribe who copied down the name into English, St. Bede the Venerable, mistranslated the Latin word Durobrivae, which was supposed to be "fort by the bridge". Instead of "bridge", we got Hrofi, which became the Ro- in the 22 international Rochesters.
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.