All Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh locations will be closed on Monday, September 1.
small text medium text large text

How to Spell Pittsburgh

United States Board on Geographic Names
Policy of the Board


The Board is agreed that in general the name which is in common local use at present should be adopted. This is a broad general principle, and summarizes the policy of the Board, with the exception of certain classes of cases mentioned below. It covers cases of changes or corruptions of names, except where such changes or corruptions are considered to be unworthy of perpetuation.

The difficulties encountered in carrying out this principle are found mainly in determining what is local usage, or the prevailing local usage where it is divided between different forms. Where the local usage is so divided, opportunity is afforded for the selection of the more appropriate and euphonious of the names in use.

The Board considers it desirable to depart from local usage in certain cases in order to effect reforms in nomenclature. Among these departures approved by the Board are the following:

(a) The avoidance, so far as seems practicable, of the possessive form of names.
(b) The dropping of the final "h" in the termination "burgh."
(c) The abbreviation of "borough" to "boro."
(d) The spelling of the word "center" as here given.
(e) The discontinuance of the use of hyphens in connecting parts of names.
(f) The omission wherever practicable of the letters "C.H." (Court House) after the names of county seats.
(g) The simplification of names consisting of more than one word by their combination into one word.
(h) The avoidance of the use of diacritic characters.
(i) The dropping of the words "city" and "town" as parts of names.

All of these changes are warranted by the direction of development. The possessive form of names is rapidly disappearing, except in rare cases where good reason exists for its retention. In most cases this is effected by dropping the apostrophe and the final "s." In certain cases, however, usage or euphony appears to require the retention of the final "s" when the apostrophe only is dropped.

Concerning the termination "burg" or "burgh," as Pittsburg, an extensive correspondence has developed the fact that in more than three-fourths of the places having this termination the final "h" is not in local use. The case of the termination "boro" or "borough," as Attleboro, is very similar. The present tendency is strongly toward the substitution of the abbreviated form. The Board therefore deems it desirable and advisable to induce uniformity in this matter in the manner indicated.

Excerpted from First Report of the United States Board on Geographic Names 1890-1891, page 6. r917.3 U25 v.1.


How to Spell Pittsburgh