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.


Major Settlement in the Parish of Pimperne

Historical Forms

  • (to) pimpem, of pimpemwelle, to pimpemwelle 935 ShaftR(S429) 15
  • Pinpre 1086 DB 1177–1194 P 1197 AddCh 1212 Fees 1220 Cur 1230 P
  • Pinpra 1086 Exon
  • Pinpr' 1220,1226 Cur
  • Pimpr(e) 1178–9 P 1189 France 1219,1220 1221 1223,1224 1225,1227 FF 1228 AddCh 1233 Lib 1238 Pat 1255 AD
  • Pympr(e) 1200 HarlCh 1280 Cur 1220 Ipm 1262 Cl 1263 Ass 1288
  • Pinipre 1204 ClR
  • Pimper(e) 1219,1221 Cur
  • Pympern(e) 13 1285 Cecil 1288 Ass 1290 Fine 1291 Tax 1296 Ipm 1303 FA 1548 Ct
  • Pimpern(e) 1210–12 RBE 1224 Cur 1234 Pat 1234 Cl 1242 Ch 1290 Pat 1290 Ch c.1300 AD
  • Pumpr' 1221 Cur
  • Pynperne 1234 Cecil 1290 Pat 1382 Fine 1406 Pat
  • Pinperne 1234 Cecil 1268 Ass
  • Pempre 1290 Cl
  • Pympernet 1307 Pat
  • Pemphorne c.1586 Hutch3


This is a difficult name. The form pimpern cited from the OE bounds of Tarrant H. refers to the small stream which flows from Pimperne village SW to R. Stour (cf. Langbourne in Langton Long B. par. supra ), and pimpernwelle in the same charter probably refers to the spring where the stream rises, v. well(a). Ekwall (RN 326, DEPN) thinks that the name may be of British origin, and suggests derivation from PrWelsh  *pïmp or PrCorn *pimp 'five' and PrWelsh  or PrCorn prenn 'tree', the r.n. being a back formation from the p.n. Professor Jackson agrees that this derivation is perfectly feasible, but points out that the early forms with -np - and those without final -n would need to be explained on English grounds (as the latter at least can be, v. infra ).

However Tengstrand (MN 96) suggests that a Gmc origin for the name is possible. Like Ekwall he supposes that the early spellings in -re , -ra , -er are due to loss of -n (on this cf. also Ekwall Studies1 66), but adduces various Gmc words in pimp - indicating small, rounded shape (e.g. ModE  pimple 'small rounded tumour or swelling' (from c. 1400 NED), ModE  dial. pimp 'a pimple', 'a small bundle of firewood') and suggests that Pimperne may originally have been a collective hill-name, secondarily applied to the stream, from the stem pimp - and an OE combinative suffix *-ern with a collective sense (cf. also Iwerne C. and Iwerne M. pars. infra ). The name would have reference to the group of hills projecting W, N & E towards the village, or to Pimperne Down infra , a large irregularly shaped ridge. For the first part of the name Tengstrand loc. cit. compares Pimp's Court K (KPN 317, Pinpa , Pinpe 1086, Pinpe , Pympe 1242–3 et freq ) which is situated on a ridge with a rounded end, projecting from a larger tract of high ground, and not far from R. Loose. Two names possibly more closely analogous to Pimperne may now also be adduced: Pimperleaze Rd W 180 (Pimper -, Pinper - 1196, 1198, Pymper - 1321), a country road crossing a hill spur towards a small stream, and Pimperne (1811 OS) in Melbury O. par. infra , again situated in undulating country, on a hill near a stream. Professor Löfvenberg comments: 'This is a very difficult name, and I can offer no solution or even suggestion. But if we start from a word *pimp of Germanic origin, it seems to me impossible to account for the numerous forms with -n - in front of the following -p -.A change of an original -n - to -m - would be natural. From a formal point of view the second el. may well be OE  ærn 'house'.' However, -np - for -mp - is perhaps only orthographical (cf. Panptune DB for Ponton L (DEPN) and the common AN n for m before (original) b in DB and 12th-cent. spellings like Cuntone , Contone for Compton (various counties, DEPN), Crunwelle , Cronwell (a ) for Cromwell Nt 185, Lanbecote for Lamcote ib 240, etc, v. Feilitzen 85).

In the form from 1307, -et may represent the Fr  diminutive suffix -elle , v. -et(t)(e). For the former chace and warnership of Pimperne, v. under Blandford F. par. supra , cf. Pimperne Fox Warren & Pimperne Wd infra .

Places in the same Parish