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date: 19 January 2020

Abstract and Keywords

The history of the names of steam locomotives in the earliest years of Britain’s railways is described, showing a clear progression from names based on essential attributes, whether real, metaphorical, or mythologically encoded, of the locomotives themselves, towards others which are situated on a curve of increasing arbitrariness. These later names tended to be typed, and less constrained as regards their sources than earlier ones, veering sharply away from being literally or metaphorically descriptive. The sources of these later onymic types are of cultural interest. The progression described is suggested to represent an onomastic universal regarding naming strategies for new categories of nameable things. The names of trains are also briefly considered.

Keywords: locomotive names, train names, naming strategies, naming universals, metaphor

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