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.

The Lapwing

Early-attested site in the Parish of Baschurch

Historical Forms

  • The Lappwing 1609 SBL17410
  • Lapperwing Wood 1719 SBL17532
  • Lapwingwood 1800 SBL16976 1841–4 TA


Lapwing names are not confined to the north-west Midlands, but they are concentrated in Shropshire and Cheshire. Two f.n. instances were noted in PN Sa 2(164, 219), and one in Part 3 (219), Gazetteer notes Lapwing in Stottesdon, and there is a Lapwings Leasow in the TA for Trench in Ellesmere. PN Ch 5.1 227 lists five instances. The 1609 reference to the present instance is probably the earliest noted, though PN Db 643 has a field-name Lapwingeflight 1673.

These names have generally been regarded as straightforward references to the bird, but in CornEl 62, Dr Oliver Padel makes an alternative suggestion. Discussing the place-name use of the Modern Cornish name for the bird (kodna huilan ) he points out that, in Cornwall, English dialect horniwink is used both for the lapwing and for a tumbledown place, and that a Welsh  name for the bird, cornicyll , is used for a shieling. A transferred use of this sort would be especially suitable for simplex examples of Lapwing.

EDD gives hornywink as Dev. Corn., and defines the adjective hornywinky as 'desolate, outlandish, like a moor where horniwinks resort'. Also, from Cornwall, “an old tumble-down house has been revilingly described as an old shabrag horny-wink place”.