The greater DC area needed an etymological map.
Okay, so it probably didn't need an etymological map, but it sure could use one. I took 30 minutes out of my morning today to have a bit of fun: mapping the greater Washington, DC area not with its current names, but names built around their historical meanings. For example takoma, as part of Takoma Park, derives from a Native American word meaning "snow-capped mountain." Some of the results were surprising (check out Suitland and Carrollton).
Actual names of cities - Etymological names of cities:
Alexandria – Defender of Men. From Greek alexein "to defend" + -andr- "man" (related to andros and anthro-).
Anacostia – Village Trading Center. From Nacotchatank Algonquin anacost- "trading village."
Arlington – Hygered's Farm. Named after Arlington, England. Anglo-Saxon records from the 800s CE list the name as Hygered-ing-tun. The suffix -ing- is a possessive marker analagous to 's in Modern English. -tun is a suffix for town but in the 800s CE it meant a stately house with farmland (Modern English -ton).
Bethesda – House of Mercy. From Aramaic beth "house" (whence the second morpheme of the word alphabet) + hesda "mercy."
Bladensburg – Sword's Fort. From a Germanic source, possibly Anglo-Saxon. Bladen "sword" or "knife" (contrast Modern English blade) + -s a possessive genitive marker (Modern English 's) + -burg "fort" (though today means something more like city or burrough).
Glenarden – Great Forest Narrow Valley. From English glen "narrow valley" + Latin arden "great forest."
Greenbelt – Rural Land Outside the City. English analogy: a belt of greenland that wraps around a city. A bit dated as nearly cities are surrounded by suburbs today.
Holmes Run – Holly Tree Run. Holme and holmes have many meanings. The one I figured was most likely is a common Middle English name meaning a place of a holly tree. The last name of Sherlock Holmes, for instance, meant "man of the holly tree."
Hyattsville – Village of the Man of High Gate. From Middle English hyatt a dialect shortening of high + gate with a 's genitive and -ville "village."
Lake Barcroft – Farm by the River Bank. From Scotch-Irish English ban- "river bank" + croft "farm."
Langley – Long Meadow. From Old English lang "long" + -lea "meadow" or "woods clearing" (contrast Ashley "meadow between the ash trees").
Marlow – Marsh Hill. From English mar- "marsh" + low "hill."
McLean – Celtic shorthand for (Saint) John's Servant
Mount Rainier – General's Adviser. A rarely employed term. A rainier was once a common position to Frankish and German armies.
New Carrollton – Town of the Slaughter Champion. From older Irish carroll "slaughter champion" + -ton "town."
Potomac River – River of Swans. Disputed etymology, so I chose the prettier one. It could also be from From Algonquin patowmack "something brought," signifying a trading post.
Pimmit Hills – Unknown
Suitland – Senator Samuel Taylor Suit's Land
Takoma Park – Snow-covered mountain. From Lushootseed [təqʷúʔbəʔ] "mother of the waters."
Washington – Wassa's Estate. Contrast Arlington. From Old English Wassa personal name + -ing- possessive suffix + -tun "estate," "farm house."