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International Town Names That Will Crack You Up

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If you enjoy traveling, you've likely come across your share of interesting town names. Towns and cities get their monikers in a number of ways. For example, many locations derive their names from other places. These are called transfer names. Think Athens, Georgia; Paris, Texas; or Ithaca, New York.

Other locations, on the other hand, are named after heads of state such as Washington, D.C., Jackson (Wyoming), and Madison (Wisconsin). There are even cities around the world with hilarious origins. Here are some of the silliest international town names on the map.

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Taylor's Mistake, New Zealand

Coastal path at Taylor's Mistake in New Zealand
Credit: Simon Bradfield/ iStock

Most cities wouldn't want to be known as a "mistake," but this quaint, coastal town on South Island actually has two competing maritime mishaps that account for its unfortunate name. Once known as Vincent's Bay, the town became Taylor's Mistake after a captain of the same name accidentally beached his ship there during the night after assuming he was passing over nearby Sumner's Bar.

However, several local researchers note that this name was already in use as early as 1853 when Captain Underwood threw himself overboard the barque Gwalior near Lyttelton. The chief officer, Mr. Taylor, took over and some speculate that his failure to save the captain garnered the city its infamous name.

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Useless Loop, Australia

Shark Bay in Australia
Credit: Pierrick Limousin/ iStock

In the early 1800s, the Baudin Expedition set out to explore Australia's wildlife and landscapes. When Frenchman Louis-Henri de Saulces de Freycinet came across a western Australian bay that would one day become the famous Shark Bay World Heritage Area, he rather dismissively called it, "Havre Inutile" (Useless Harbor). At the time, Freycinet mistakenly thought the bay was blocked by a sandbar. Far from useless, this mining town actually produces the purest form of salt in the world today.

5

Worms, Germany

Nibelungen Bridge with Nibelungen Tower in Worms, Germany
Credit: no_limit_pictures/ iStock

Why would a town be named after insect larvae, you ask? With an archaeological record that dates back 6,000 years, the region was first called Borbetomagus by the Celts. That was before it was renamed "Vormatia" by the Romans. The word is Latin for "Settlement in a watery region." It eventually got shortened to "Vorms" and finally, "Worms." Remember that the letter "W" in German is pronounced like the English "V." So, the town isn't actually overrun by creepy, crawly bugs. Instead, it boasts a wine and culinary scene that belies its rather unappetizing-sounding name.

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Beer, England

Fisherman boats on pebbles at beach in Beer, Devon, UK
Credit: merc67/ iStock

There are plenty of places to grab a pint at this picturesque village in England's Jurassic Coast World Heritage region. However, it was a nearby forest that actually garnered it the jolly name it enjoys today. The old Anglo Saxon word for grove is "Bearu." This tree-encased town was initially a fishing village before it gained fame for both its fine lace and the not-so-fine smuggling activities of the infamous Jack Rattenbury. The town eventually built a limestone quarry. Today, you can bask in the sun surrounded by a limestone cliff "suntrap" at Beer Beach.

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Middelfart, Denmark

Old Town Harbor in Copenhagen, Denmark
Credit: Jay Lekavicius/ Shutterstock

Although it sounds like a teenage prank, Middelfart is actually a thriving cultural hub and not just for the jokesters among us. Its name dates back to 1231 A.D. and is derived from the term "Melfar," a Danish contraction, which means "Middle crossing." Located on the northwestern tip of the Danish island of Funen, the city is situated at the narrowest crossing of the Little Belt, a watery channel that measures about a half-mile in width.

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Emo, Canada

Pipestone Lake Resorts in Canada
Credit: StevenGaertner/ iStock

This bustling Ontario town is anything but depressing. In fact, it houses a vibrant resort community that includes the nearly 100-year-old Hideaway Lodge on Clearwater Lake. The city's original reeve (king's councilor) was named Emo after the village in Ireland where he was born. "Emo" comes from the Gaelic word "Ioma," which means "Resting place."

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Yell and Mid Yell, Scotland

Southernmost part of Shetland mainland looking towards the lighthouse
Credit: Moorefam/ iStock

You'll love the name of this locale. Yell is the largest of the northernmost isles of Scotland's Shetland Isles, while Mid Yell is its most populated settlement. The names may have come from the Old Norse word "Hjallr" or platform. As you'll see, Yell connects to the mainland via a narrow strip (platform of land), which is known today as a "tombolo."

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