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Residence Hall Etymology

You'll want to go for the rooms facing the river in Woodbridge. Photo via Wikimedia

The Core, it has been said, is good for cocktail party chatter and not much else. You’ll be able to schmooze with people about Woolfe and iambic pentameter, yadda yadda. This post supplements the rather specific knowledge Columbia bestows on you (hey, no snark alert: we kind of love the Core) with some genuinely useless knowledge that might be fun when you try to mingle with upperclassmen tonight.

You know that dorms are named after donors or whatever, but we thought we’d dig a little deeper. Bwog did some of our famous shoe-leather reporting and hit up to learn more.

(To our great dismay, Bwog was unable to locate meanings for “Furnald” or, um, “Harmony.” Your guesses are welcomed in the comments.)


  1. English: from an Old Norse personal name Kar(l)ma{dh}r (accusative Kar(l)mann), composed of the elements karl ‘male’, ‘man’ + ma{dh}r ‘man’, ‘person’.
  2. English: occupational name for a carter, from Anglo-Norman French, Middle English car(re) ‘cart’ (Late Latin carrus) + Middle English man ‘man’.
  3. Dutch: variant spelling of Karman.
  4. Altered spelling of Germann or Korman.


  1. English (mainly northern): habitational name from any of various places so called. Several, in particular those in Hampshire, Kent, and Devon, are named from Old English heorot ‘hart’, ‘stag’ + leah ‘wood’, ‘clearing’. One in Northumberland has as the second element Old English hlaw ‘hill’, and one in Cumbria contains Old English cla ‘claw’, in the sense of a tongue of land between two streams, + probably heard ‘hard’. The surname is widely distributed, but most common in Yorkshire, where it arose from a place near Haworth, West Yorkshire, also named with Old English heorot + leah. As a Scottish name, it comes from the Cumbrian Hartley (see forebears note).
  2. Irish: shortened Anglicized form of or surname adopted as equivalent of Gaelic Ó hArtghaile ‘descendant of Artghal’, a personal name composed of the elements Art ‘bear’, ‘hero’ + gal ‘valor’.

Hogan: Irish: Anglicized form of Gaelic Ó hÓgáin ‘descendant of Ógán’, a personal name from a diminutive of óg ‘young’, also ‘young warrior’. In the south, some bearers claim descent from an uncle of Brian Boru. In northern Ireland a surname of the same form was Anglicized as Hagan.


  1. Anglicized form of Gaelic Mac a’ Ghille Bhàin ‘son of the pale or white-haired lad’, in some cases a descriptive nickname for an albino.
  2. variant of McBean.

River: Possibly English (see Rivers), or an Americanized form of a like-sounding name in some other language, perhaps German Riffer (see Riffey).

Ruggles: English: patronymic from a pet form of Rudge.

Schapiro: Jewish (Ashkenazic): variant spelling of Shapiro.

Wallach: Jewish (Ashkenazic): from Middle High German walhe, walch: ‘foreigner from a Romance country’, most probably a nickname for someone from Italy; or, German: habitational name from Wallach, a place near Wesel; or, Scottish: variant of Wallace (Scottish and northern Irish: from Anglo-Norman French waleis ‘Welsh’ (from a Germanic cognate of Old English wealh ‘foreign’), hence an ethnic name for a Welsh speaker. In some cases this clearly denoted an incomer to Scotland from Wales or the Welsh Marches, but it may also have denoted a Welsh-speaking Scot: in western Scotland around Glasgow, the Welsh-speaking Strathclyde Britons survived well into the Middle Ages).

Watt: Scottish and English: from an extremely common Middle English personal name, Wat(t), a short form of Walter.


  1. German and Jewish (Ashkenazic): habitational name from the city of Vienna (German Wien, Yiddish Vin). The place name is first recorded in the Latin form Vindobona, and is of Celtic origin. Before the Holocaust there was a large Jewish population in Vienna. From the 17th century onwards the Leopoldstadt district was officially designated as a Jewish quarter, and many families bearing this surname no doubt originated there.
  2. Norwegian: habitational name from any of seven farmsteads in eastern Norway named Vien, earlier Vivin, from Old Norse viðr ‘wood’, víðr ‘wide’, or ‘(pagan) sacred place’ + vin ‘meadow’.

Woodbridge: English: habitational name from Woodbridge in Suffolk or Dorset, both named from Old English wudu ‘wood’ + brycg ‘bridge’, i.e. a bridge made of timber or one near a wood.

and if you go to Barnard…


  1. English: from the possessive case of Brook (i.e. ‘of the brook’).
  2. Jewish (Ashkenazic): Americanized form of one or more like-sounding Jewish surnames.
  3. Americanized spelling of German Brucks.


  1. nickname for a person with red hair or a ruddy complexion, from Older Scots reid ‘red’.
  2. topographic name for someone who lived in a clearing, from Old English r¯d ‘woodland clearing’. Compare English Read.


  1. English, Welsh, and Scottish: from the medieval personal name Huet, a diminutive of Hugh. See also Hew. The surname has also long been established in Ireland.
  2. English: topographic name for someone who lived in a newly made clearing in a wood, Middle English hewett (Old English hiewet, a derivative of heawan ‘to chop’,‘to hew’).

Plimpton: English: habitational name from Plympton in Devon, named in Old English with pl¯me ‘plum tree’ + tun ‘settlement’, ‘farmstead’. It may also be a variant of Plumpton, from any of several places so named, which have the same etymology.

Sulzberger: German: habitational name from a place called Sulzberg.

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  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous I recall reading that Harmony Hall was named after William Harmon of the Explorers Club, which previously owned the building.

    Can’t find that article anywhere, though.

    [CAPTCHA: elusive entity]

  • Harmony Hunter says:

    @Harmony Hunter why isnt harmony on this list i mean HELLO. ok listen all i want is 1 thing from you people.

  • Anyone says:

    @Anyone have an idea when John Kluge might die, to see if his pledge is legitimate??

  • Dear Freshmen says:

    @Dear Freshmen Don’t bring up etymology of any sort when speaking to upperclassmen unless you don’t want to get laid.

  • what about says:

    @what about claremont?

    1. i know says:

      @i know right? just because we’re like five blocks from anything…

  • here you go! says:

    @here you go! from

    O.E. east “east, easterly, eastward,” from P.Gmc. *aus-to-, *austra- “east, toward the sunrise” (cf. O.Fris. ast “east,” aster “eastward,” Du. oost O.S. ost, O.H.G. ostan, Ger. Ost, O.N. austr “from the east”), from PIE *aus- “to shine,” especially “dawn” (cf. Skt. ushas “dawn,” Gk. aurion “morning,” O.Ir. usah, Lith. auszra “dawn,” L. aurora “dawn,” auster “south”), lit. “to shine.” The east is the direction in which dawn breaks.

    “college grounds,” 1774, from L. campus “a field,” probably properly “an expanse surrounded” (by woods, higher ground, etc.), from PIE *kampos “a corner, cove,” from base *kamp- “to bend” (cf. Lith. kampus “corner,” Pol. kepa “island in a river”). First used in college sense at Princeton.

  • Etymology Hunter says:

    @Etymology Hunter can’t find harmony? from

    late 14c., from O.Fr. armonie, from L. harmonia, from Gk. harmonia “agreement, concord of sounds,” lit. “means of joining,” related to harmos “joint, shoulder,” from PIE *ar-ti-, from *ar- “to fit together.” Musical sense is oldest in Eng.; that of “agreement of feeling, concord” is from 1580s.

    1. Harmony Hunter says:

      @Harmony Hunter Wait, so I have to travel to the 14th century to find harmony? Damn.
      Can anybody help me find a flux capacitor?

      1. Harmony Hunter says:

        @Harmony Hunter where did these lame Harmony Hunter impostors come from (I aM ThE OriGiNaL) and what is a fuck capacitor?

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous McBain’s Etymology explains so much about it’s residents

  • Why no love says:

    @Why no love for East Campus?

    1. reply fail :( says:

      @reply fail :( see below.

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous You couldn’t have just given us who each building is named after? That would have been a whole lot more interesting…

    1. Escapee says:

      @Escapee That’s what wikicu is for:

      From an architectural review of EC that’s quoted in the EC wikicu article: “Consider a building that has to be vandal-proof, constructed of maintenance-free materials with every surface resistant to neglect and abuse, where violation of design and function must be an anticipated fact, along with defacement and petty thievery — a place where surveillance is a necessity and population is transient. A description of a minimum security prison? Not at all. This is a dormitory for Columbia University… it is easy to see how an austerely simple aesthetic can be brought down to this dispiriting level…”

      So true…

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