What is a geographical similarity between Cambridge University and Oxford University related to their 'titles'?

  • $\begingroup$ Both have the "University" title... lol $\endgroup$ – Rafe Sep 21 '14 at 15:30
  • $\begingroup$ Both have the name Oxford, except Cambridge. $\endgroup$ – Marius Sep 19 '16 at 7:24

As noted in Jason's answer, both bridge and ford have to do with rivers, in these cases the Cam and the Isis portion of the Thames.

Etymonline's Cambridge entry says

Old English Grontabricc (c.745) “Bridge on the River Granta” (a Celtic river name, of obscure origin). The change to Cante- and later Cam- was due to Norman influence. The river name Cam is a back-formation in this case, but Cam also was a legitimate Celtic river name, meaning “crooked.”

Etymonline's Oxford entry says

university town in England, Middle English Oxforde, from Old English Oxnaforda (10c.) literally “where the oxen ford.” In reference to a type of shoe laced over the instep, it is attested from 1721 (Oxford-cut shoes). Related: Oxfordian; Oxfordish; Oxfordist; Oxfordy.

The Cambridge/Oxford river-crossing coincidence is fairly minor, but see ELU's OxFORD and CamBRIDGE for more discussion of it.

A slightly deeper coincidence is that between Oxford and Bosphorus:

The Greek name Βόσπορος (Bosporos) was folk-etymologized as from βοὸς πόρος, i.e. “cattle strait” (or “Ox-ford”), from the genitive of bous βοῦς “ox, cattle” + poros πόρος “passage”, thus “cattle-passage”, or “cow passage” in reference to Io from Greek mythology who was transformed into a cow and condemned to wander the earth until she crossed the Bosporus where she met Prometheus.... [wikipedia]

A number of 3-university (Oxford, Cambridge, Bosphorus) boat races have been held in Istanbul (see hurriyetdailynews.com) analogous to the famous University Boat Race held annually on the Thames.

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  • 1
    $\begingroup$ The "cows cross the river here" town name is extremely popular. Vancouver is named after a name derived from Van Couverden - and Couverden is Dutch for "cow ford" $\endgroup$ – Kate Gregory Oct 19 '15 at 0:52
  • $\begingroup$ This is why the portmanteau term "Oxbridge" sounds OK. (I think someone wrote a work of fiction with a "Camford" university too.) $\endgroup$ – Gareth McCaughan Sep 19 '16 at 8:39

A bridge goes over a river and you ford a river?

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