All are Latin, or I guess come from Latin, but is it a direct shot to say that whenever Suburbs first became recognized and named, that they were given the status of being Superb? At one point was that kind of synonymous in the minds of the general public?

Where this is coming from is that I'm trying to understand the Latin word Superbas (which does mean Suburb), as the Brooklyn Dodgers were called the 'Brooklyn Superbas' for many years back in the day. The meaning thus, I suppose, being that Brooklyn was a Suburb – and a kind of lesser double entendre that they were a Superb team.

But isn't the NY borough of Brooklyn NOT a suburb?, since it's about a stone's-throw away from downtown and in fact a part of the city proper?

So I've got era, coastal, and dyslexic issues working against me here.

When you hear that a team from 1900 was called the Brooklyn Superbas, which one should be thought of first? Did fans from that era just understand it primarily meant one or the other? (Suburb vs. Superb)

  • "the Latin word Superbas (which does mean Suburb)" – can you provide a citation? I don't especially doubt you, but I'm having a hard time finding any discussion of this word myself. – sumelic Jun 25 '15 at 20:50
  • All the Latin dictionaries I've searched have just listed it as the accusative feminine plural of "superbus". – sumelic Jun 25 '15 at 20:58
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    "Suburb" is a shortening of "suburban", and "suburban" is the combination of "sub" and "urban". No relation whatsoever to "superb". And never saw the word "superbus" before. – Hot Licks Jun 26 '15 at 1:38
  • @HotLicks: superbus is not English, but Latin (it's the word "superb" comes from, although it could also mean some other things). As far as I can tell, this question states that superbas is also a Latin word, that has the meaning of "suburb." I haven't been able to find any other evidence of superbas meaning "suburb" in Latin, which is why I asked for a source. – sumelic Jun 26 '15 at 4:07
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    "Surperba" is apparently an Italian word meaning proud, haughty, superb, magnificent, arrogant, cavalier, uppish. In a city with a large Italian population it's not hard to see how it could have been a good choice for a team name. The term has nothing to do with "suburbs". – Hot Licks Jun 26 '15 at 12:17

Apparently, the "Superbas" name used for the Dodgers under the management of Ned Hanlon was a pluralized form of "Superba," a reference to an apparently somewhat well-known vaudeville production put on by the Hanlon brothers, an unrelated group of performers, acrobats, and inventors. I'm stumped as to any connection to the word "suburb" (beside a certain phonetic similarity).

I haven't been able to find any sources about the origin of the vaudeville event's name, but it looks to me like it's just the feminine form of Latin "superbus" in the sense of "excellent": "Superba" is apparently the name of a good character in the play.

This would make the 'Brooklyn Superbas' nickname ultimately related to the word "superb."

Source: http://www.barrypopik.com/index.php/new_york_city/entry/bridegrooms_brooklyn_baseball_team


These two words aren't related; they have different roots from Greek and Latin. Superb uses the root super- while suburb uses the root sub-. Super- is for above while sub- is for below (See: List of Greek and Latin roots in English). The word suburb uses the sub and urb roots to make an under-city, or an outlying area of a city. The word superbas is still sub and not super because the sub root can be used as su/suf/sug/sup/sus and it creates confusion. In the case of it meaning suburb in latin, the "sup" part of the word refers to below, not above.

Another Latin word for suburb is suburbio.

  • I just realized that superbas means suburb as well, let me edit my answer. I thought you meant superba. – Blubberguy22 Jun 25 '15 at 19:36
  • My answer still holds true, I just needed to elaborate on how superbas isn't using the root super but instead sup which still refers to the below or under property. – Blubberguy22 Jun 25 '15 at 19:39
  • My fault. I had the word “Superba” (a local street name, to confuse things further) but just edited it to the correct word, which is still in the question title. Thanks for answering. I'll leave the question open for a bit to see if someone can shed further light as to the specifics of 1900s fans and a NY understanding. – ipso Jun 25 '15 at 19:43
  • If you want to take my original answer as it was, you could see the name as a way of calling the team beautiful while describing its physical origins in the suburbs of Brooklyn. – Blubberguy22 Jun 25 '15 at 19:45

Brooklyn Superbas is an interesting name - and I think a sophisticated play on words. Pronounced English it recalls suburb - Latin sub + urb-, under + city. It also reminds of Latin super and superbus. Superbus has a lot of meanings, one is excellent. So the name indicates "the team from the suburb", but also "the excellent team, maybe the best".


From http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/today-in-1899-the-brooklyn-superbas-were-born/:

Today in 1899, The Brooklyn Superbas Were Born by Alex Remington - February 7, 2013

Today in the 1898-1899 offseason, a remarkable thing happened: as the ownership groups in Baltimore and Brooklyn swapped part shares in each other’s clubs, the Orioles effectively merged with the Dodgers, with the class of the two ballclubs going to Brooklyn and the dregs staying in Baltimore — with the exception of star Baltimore third baseman John McGraw, who refused to leave. (Imagine if Jeffrey Loria traded a stake in the Marlins to Rogers Communications to obtain a stake in the Blue Jays, and you begin to get the idea.) The super-team in Brooklyn, formerly called the Trolley Dodgers, became known as the “Superbas.”

And this from http://www.boweryboyshistory.com/2011/08/brooklyn-baseball-superbas-and-worst.html:

A couple weeks ago I wrote about the daredevil vaudevillian acrobats the Hanlon Brothers, known for extraordinary feats of human agility mixed into theatrical extravaganzas. They made their debut at Niblo’s Garden in 1858, and fifty years later, their sons were still carrying on the tradition of thrilling audiences with their mix of fantasy, theater and gymnastics.

In the 1890s, the Hanlon sons focused their energies on two popular traveling variety shows, elaborate productions akin to a stadium rock show, often employing revolving stages, costumed casts, and sophisticated harnesses and props. The first, Fantasma!, would later be the subject of Thomas Edison’s early films. Their second, Superba!, would accidentally inspire the world of baseball.

In 1899, scrappy baseball superstar Ned Hanlon — who made his career in the 1880s in Cleveland and Pittsburgh — moved to Brooklyn to manage the then-named Brooklyn Bridegrooms. Ned Hanlon was not related to the flamboyant Hanlon brothers in any way. However, simply by confusion or a cheeky name-play by journalists, the team was soon called the Brooklyn Superbas, borrowing the title of the popular theatrical show. (You pronounce it the Su-PER-bas.) The name stuck until the early 1910s, when the borough’s primary form of transportation inspired another nickname — the Trolley Dodgers, soon shortened to just the Brooklyn Dodgers.

So I'm not seeing any connection to the suburbs here.

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