Sin: මීගමුව mīgamuva – Tam: நீர்கொழும்பு nīrkoḻumpu

‘Honey Village’  WP,  Sri Lanka

From Sin: mee, ‘honey’; and gamuwa, ‘village, hamlet’.

Negombo is a Portuguese corruption of Tam: Neerkolumbu, which may itself be a corruption of the original Sin: Megamuwa.

Since Chilaw, Puttalam and Negombo were all areas where Tamil was spoken it is just as likely that Neerkolumbu was the original, but the derivation is not clear: possibly ‘Sea Point’ from Tam: nir, ‘water, sea’; and kolu, ‘(sharp) point, curve, bend’ which fits topographically.

There is a handy myth in the Rajavaliya that tells how King Kavantissa’s champion, keen to satisfy the cravings of Princess Viharamahadevi who was pregnant with Dutugemunu at the time,

“arrived at the seaport Migamuwa, where, in an old boat hauled ashore by the fishermen, he discovered a honeycomb of sixty cubits…From that day forward the place was called Migamuwa.” 

Negombo is an old fishing port with a sheltered lagoon for ships. Under the Portuguese the majority of the population converted to Catholicism and it is still very much a Catholic city and is nicknamed the ‘Little Rome’ on account of its 25 ornate Catholic churches built during the Portuguese era.

Under the Dutch a new fort was built and a canal to transport local spices such as cinnamon.

For related place names see Sri Lanka Place names.

Negombo Canal was built by the Dutch to transport spices

Negombo Canal was built by the Dutch to transport spices              A.Savin