Remarks on the age of farm names on the example of Audru


Keywords: Estonian language, farm names, etymologies

The article looks at Estonian farm names, using examples from Audru Parish. Farm names are considered younger than village names, although historians believe that the farm is older than the village as a settlement unit. It has been suggested that farm names developed in the 9th century. This article shows that many farm names were already documented in the 16th century. In the past, villages were subject to taxation, but from the 16th century onwards, farm families (Gesinde) became the tax unit. Indeed, it was in the 16th century that the names of peasants – mostly consisting of first and last names – began to appear in documents. The question is whether the last name of a peasant denoted a group of people (a family) or whether it also applied to the plot of land managed by the family. It makes sense to assume the latter. In this article I present examples of older farm names in Audru, their changes over time and name etymologies. I also make an attempt to align the names collected over nearly a century by the Mother Tongue Society and the Institute of the Estonian Language with those available in the Place Names Register.


Marja Kallasmaa (b. 1950), PhD, Institute of the Estonian Language, Senior Lexico­g­rapher (Roosikrantsi 6, 10119 Tallinn), marja.kallasmaa@eki.ee