The term toponymy comes from the Greek, more specifically from topos which means place , and from onoma which means name. Toponymy is the discipline that studies the proper names of places. Thus, the names of any town , city or community is known as a toponym.
Toponymy is an auxiliary discipline of geography and history
The knowledge of the names of each place is a fact that has an unquestionable historical value, on the other hand, it allows to know the evaluation of the natives of a place in relation to its environment. It should be noted that many toponyms refer to the physical characteristics of the geographic space . In this way, when a place receives the name of Juncal or Robledal, it indicates that in those places there were reeds and oaks.
The toponym normally expresses the relationship between the origin of men and the place they inhabited.
Specialists in this discipline study the diversity of toponyms in each territory and this analysis is known as toponymic stratigraphy. This means that in a territory there can be many denominations of various origins. For example, in Spain the toponymy is Arabic, Latin, Castilian, Catalan, Basque, Galician or unclassified .
A general classification
Each toponym has a particular origin. If the name of a place comes from a historical character, it is called an anthroponym (for example, Washington is named after the first president of the United States). If the name of a place is due to an animal, it is a zoonym (for example, Cabeça de Ox or Wolves). There are also phytonyms or toponyms with plant names, as occurs in some places called Guaco. Cosonyms are based on names of stars, such as the Picos de Europa. Anyway, all typonyms have their own story.
Toponymy and the gentiles
However, there is not always a correspondence between the gentile and the toponym, for example, the inhabitants of Medellín are paisas and the Portuguese are known as Luso because the territory of Portugal in antiquity was called Lusitânia.