English Place-name Society

Survey of English Place-Names

A county-by-county guide to the linguistic origins of England’s place-names – a project of the English Place-Name Society, founded 1923.

Desborough Castle

Early-attested site in the Parish of West Wycombe

Historical Forms

  • Dusteburg 1227 Ass
  • Dusteberg 1237 Ch
  • Disborowe 1626 Vern
  • Disborough 1797 Desb


Taking the forms of this and the identical Hundred name (v. supra ) the only etymology which can be suggested is that while the second element is beorg the first is the second element in the OE  plant-name dweorge-dwostle , dweorge-d (w )osle , dwyrgedwysle , 'penny-royal.' This might possibly appear as ME  dustel , One does not know just what plant the uncompounded form may have been used for in England, for it is not found in the OE vocabularies. Ekwall suggests alternatively that we may have an English cognate of OHG  Dusilo , such as may lie behind Desning (Sf). If that is the case the OE  name *Dysel (a ) must early have developed t between s and l . In any case one must explain the variation between l and n as due to Anglo- French influence (IPN 106).