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The Dictionary of British Place Names explains the origins of the names of towns in the British Isles. Is there a comparable dictionary for place-names in Germany (or in the entire German-speaking world)?

  • Google books offers Die deutschen Ortsnamen from 1863 and there seems to exists a similar work from Prof. Helbook (1935) with some 70 pages. – guidot Mar 29 '16 at 13:08
  • Not exactly what you’re looking for, but still interesting: CiNaViz. – Crissov Mar 29 '16 at 20:11
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There is no “global” dictionary for the German-speaking area. Instead, there are lots of regional projects that often cover individual districts (Landkreis). A common term for such a dictionary is Ortsnamenbuch.

As an example, there is the Westfälisches Ortsnamenbuch, planned to comprise 19 volumes, of which 8 volumes have been published as of March 2016. Unfortunately, I am not aware of a complete list of similar dictionary projects; only a few of them are listed in the Wikipedia article Ortsnamenbuch.

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With the help of chirlu’s answer telling me that Ortsnamenbuch is the German name for this type of dictionary, I found the Deutsches Ortsnamenbuch (also available on Google Books). It might not be as thorough as the individual regional ones, but the information I was looking for was there.

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