Settlement names in -lev – University of Copenhagen

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Names in Denmark > Place-names > Common place-name types > Names in -lev


Settlement names ending in ‑lev

Place names with the ending ‑lev are found in most parts of Denmark. Among them are Herlev, Ullerslev and Haderslev. In the western part of Jutland, however, there is only one single lev-name, Vindelev.

The ending ‑lev is not known to be an independent word in Danish, but it is related to the substantive levn 'survival, relic.' for which reason ‑lev means 'something left behind,' most likely an 'inheritance.'

The main part of the lev-names is formed with personal names as the first element. Thus, the meaning of, e.g. Sejerslev is 'Sejer's inherintance.' The personal name material found as the first element in the lev-names are of an old type, and, therefore, the lev-names can be dated to the period of the great migrations, or maybe, in the case of the oldest -lev names, even earlier. Yet, the youngest of the names could have been formed as late as the early Viking Age, although there are no Danish lev-names in the Danelaw or in Normandy.