This may be a dumb question, but I'm wondering why there is s in Londres.

The Belgian capital is spelled Bruxelles in French, Brussels in English and (seemingly) Brussel in Flemish.

My questions are

  • Does the ending "s" in Londres or Bruxelles mark plurality? If so, why?
  • Or if it doesn't, are there etymological reasons why those two city names (or other ones) end in "s"?

1 Answer 1


This -s is probably remnant of -s ending of nominative case of Old French. Old French still had 2 cases (nominative and oblique), and nominative singular form sometimes ended with -s (remnant of Latin -us or sometimes -s). However for most words in modern French, their modern form comes from form of oblique case, not nominative case in Old French.

Neither of names of these cities end with -s in their original languages (Celtic, Latin, Germanic).

  • 5
    il semble que ce soit un peu plus compliqué que cela. Le S proviendrait la plupart du temps de la forme ablatif pluriel du nom de peuple latin associé à la villes (Parisii/Paris, Rémiges/Reims, Vénètes/Vannes etc.), voir ici : guichetdusavoir.org/question/voir/39683. Après, il est possible que certains autres noms de villes aient été alignés abusivement sur cette habitude de -s.
    – XouDo
    Commented Apr 29 at 9:44
  • 1
    @XouDo To be clear, the plural ablative forms would be Parisiīs, Rēmīs, Venetīs. It’s not quite clear that such ablative forms are in fact the ablative plural, though, certainly not in all forms; the accusative plural (in -ōs, also the source of many ‘normal’ French plurals) is another source. And in forms like Paris, the surviving s is definitively not from the ablative plural, but part of the stem. Had it been the ablative suffix, it would have been Parises. Commented Apr 29 at 18:00
  • 1
    Interestingly, a couple of cities with no ending S in French used to have one in English: Lyons and Marseilles but this spelling is now outdated.
    – jlliagre
    Commented Apr 29 at 21:30
  • @jlliagre Supposedly both had ending -s in Old French: Lyons, Marseilles.
    – Arfrever
    Commented Apr 30 at 0:48
  • @Arfrever There are occurrences of Marseilles indeed but Lyons seems to be due to a confusion: Le /s/ final s’explique sans doute par une confusion avec le précédent, lieu de résidence des ducs de Normandie et rois d’Angleterre au Moyen Âge.
    – jlliagre
    Commented Apr 30 at 1:32

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