Settlement names in -toft and -tofte – University of Copenhagen

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Names in Denmark > Place-names > Common place-name types > Names in -toft(e)

 

Settlement names ending in -toft and -tofte

A number of Danish settlement names end in the word ‑toft, e.g. names such as Ebeltoft and Gentofte. The ending appears either in the singular ‑toft or in the plural ‑tofte; however, in Jutland dialects today, the plural and the singular both have the form ‑toft.

In Old Danish and as an ending in place names, toft means 'area withheld from the common village community,' but as early as the Middle Ages, the specialized meaning 'area to be used for the individual villager's houses and kitchen garden and withheld from the village community' is found.

The toft(e)-names date back to the Viking age. This is confirmed by the fact that the Danes brought this name type with them to the Danelaw and Normandy. A few of the Danish settlement names in ‑toft(e) are formed with words relating to Christianity, e.g. Munktoft 'the monks toft' and Bistoft 'bishop's toft;' this means that some of the toft(e)-names must be dated to the early Middle Ages.