Tava

Attested:  Ptolemy 2,3,5  Ταουα estuary;  Tacitus ad Taum;  RC Taba

Where: The river Tay, with mouth around NO5229.  Marx (2013) wrongly suggested the river South Esk.  RC’s Taba is in its list of afterthoughts, without geographical context.

Name OriginTava/Taba belongs among the many early river names that began with Ta-, discussed under Tamesis.  PIE *ta- ‘to melt’ plus *ap- ‘water’ seems like a natural explanation for Tava, but Ekwall (1928) drew attention to the way that PIE *teu- ‘to swell’ developed to *tav-, which produced words such as Sanskrit taviti ‘to be strong’, Lithuanian tvanas ‘deluge’, Avestan tavah- ‘power’, etc.  Having the greatest flow of all British rivers, the Tay would certainly fit that interpretation.

Notes:  Are all the other rivers with similar names (Tavy, Taw, Taff, etc) also “strong”?  Would early people be more inclined to notice the volumetric flow or a propensity to spate?  See also the Tuessis.

Standard terms of use:You may copy this text freely, provided you acknowledge its source, recognise that it is liable to human error, and try to offer suggestions for improvement.
Last Edited: 10 August 2016