Can You Guess The Tube Station From Its Etymology?

By M@ Last edited 6 months ago
Can You Guess The Tube Station From Its Etymology?

Mark Forsyth enjoys words. So much so that he's written a book about the origins of familiar terms. The Etymologicon is an 'erudite guided tour of the secret labyrinth that lurks beneath the English language', revealing the strange connections and origins of everyday words.

By way of example, Mark's been dicking about with the names of Tube stations. The gallery above shows six familiar stops, each now sporting a name that reflects its origin. Some are obvious, some less so...but how many can you work out?

Like this? You might also enjoy our map of Anglo Saxon London, which contains tens of other etymologies.

The Etymologicon: A Circular Stroll Through the Hidden Connections of the English Language by Mark Forsyth is by Icon Books. Buy here.

Last Updated 07 December 2017

Nicolas Chinardet

I think I have 5. where are the results?


I'll put them up later.


Holborn, Covent Garden, Bayswater (?), Aldgate, Pimlico, Temple

Big Mac

Holborn, Covent Garden, Bayswater, Aldgate, Pimlico and Temple. Though I disagree that Aldgate was "Ale Gate" - it's "Old Gate". It was the (relative) position of the old gated wall into London (and later replaced by New Gate/Newgate, where the prison was). Nothing (sadly) to do with Ale.


Charlie and Big Mac have the answers.

RE: Aldgate...Wikipedia suggests that the etymology is not certain and gives Ale Gate as an alternative theory to (the more likely sounding) Old Gate.


is it really sad that I looked at the first picture, saw it had the sign for central and piccadilly lines and surmised it was Holborn?


Did anybody notice the face on the wall in the top right hand of the horses pond pic? Is that there intentionally or a reflection from somewhere opposite ?


I wonder where the light has been reflected from to form such a precise shape as that. I suppose it all depends on the time of day n what day the pic was taken. It just happened to catch my eye as I looked at the pic more. Very weird!

tapesh majumdar

Hurray , Got 5 .

Jack Gordon

I've just stumbled across this article with the recent promotion, and it's extremely interesting - particularly to see different interpretations for place names.

Admittedly it's only a subject I've done a limited amount of research into myself (must change that - it's been done before but it interests me greatly), however I'd say that both Bayswater and Aldgate would be open to interpretation - indeed, the Ale Gate/Old Gate debate has been made already.

I could well be wrong but I think the 'Bay' in Bayswater comes from a family name that lived in the area - Bayard? Bayard's Watering was certainly the place's name some time ago (c. late 1300s), the 'Watering' of course being the nearby crossing of the River Westbourne.

If I could also offer a possible alternative for Aldgate? Aelgate - from Anglo Saxon times - having nothing to do with beer but rather being open to all, or free.

As I say - perfectly happy to accept other options and I could well be wrong, but just wanted to share my thoughts. :-)