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.
This overview of the most important Danish settlement names, provides a tool to place names in time. For instance it is now possible to ascertain that Hvessinge must be hundreds of years older than Glostrup although Hvessinge actually is a part of Glostup today.
However, many place names have a form in present time that does not immediately reveal from which words the name was originally formed. Some of these corrupt names look like other name types, and some have passed through independent changes. By examining the oldest written sources, it is often possible to see from which endings those names were formed originally.
Examples of this are Grænge on Lolland, which is an inge-name, and Klinting in Vestern Jutland, which is an um-name. Further to that Maglemer on Lolland is a tved-name, Gislev on Funen is originally formed from one word, and Græsted in Northern Zealand originally ended in ‑holt. In other words, a place name is never sure to consist of the words immediately obvious from the present day spelling.