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What does 'Cunliffe' mean?

David Cunliffe

By Duncan Wilson  

Often mispronounced, the name Cunliffe isn't terribly common. I just ran a search on White Pages and got 53 residential results back. That's compared with over 5,000 for my own surname.

Looking at the name Cunliffe, one hazards all kinds of guesses as to its meaning; some of them printable, some of them not. Indeed, some RadioLIVE callers have their own variation on the pronunciation, adding what is jokingly known in some circles as "the silent T". My beginner-level name-analysis skills pointed towards something originating from the cliffs, so one guesses a coastal-connection to the name.

Fortunately, we need guess no more, as Sean Plunket's producer Jeremy Parkinson handily looked up the name's origins for us yesterday. The meaning is quite, well, interesting.

According to ancestry.com, the name Cunliffe is an old English name. I cite the site:

English: habitational name from a place in Lancashire, near Rishton, recorded in 1246 as Kunteclive, from Old English cunte ‘cunt’ + clif ‘slope’, i.e. ‘slope with a slit or crack in it’.

So now you know. Happy weekending all!

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