I was curious about the origin of the name Chenoweth, and a quick Googling turned up the information that it was Cornish for ‘new house.’ I looked it up in my copy of T.F.G. Dexter’s Cornish Names and there it was, Chynoweth (stressed on the -no-), from ti (chy) ‘house’ (cf. Irish ti(gh)) and nowyth ‘new’ (cf. Irish nua). But I am rarely content with a quick Googling, and a little further investigation turned up the website Cornish Surnames. It’s an amateur effort and carries the charming caveat:

The etymology of surnames is not an exact science, there may be errors on these pages, the definitions come from books by Richard Stephen Charnock, G. Pawley White, T. F. G. Dexter, J. Bannister, Henry Jenner, Nicholas Williams, R. Morton Nance and many more. Some names may have multiple meanings, and I would love to hear from you if you have others I have missed.

But it’s well worth browsing through, and a lot easier to access than the obscure books it draws on.


  1. Being half Cornish, I’ve had cause to look up this site before! My grandfather had been told that his surname, Andrewartha, was a garbled derivative of ‘André-Arthur’, but this site was one of a few authorities offering plausible all-Cornish etymologies.

  2. I am glad you have made use of my little website, I am always looking to add to it and correct any obvious errors. I put the site together because it seemed like there was an interest and a need for such a topic to be covered in brief detail.

  3. It’s people like you, with a deep interest in a particular subject and a willingness to put in the continuous labor necessary to keep a website updated, that make the internet the valuable resource it is (and provide cherry-pickers like me with the cherries to pick). I’m glad you dropped by and gave me the opportunity to thank you in person!

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