A reader in St. Cloud Minnesota asks:
Which is proper, to use St. Cloud, or Saint Cloud, for the name of a city?
Answer: Since you live there you should be able to find out what the common practice is pretty easily. But seriously, it’s perfectly acceptable to use the abbreviation “St.” for the name of a city or even to refer to a saint in your writing. Most cities named after saints use the abbreviation in their names. Some examples are: St. Paul, St. Bruno, St. Moritz.
The abbreviation for a female saint is “Ste.” which gives us the name “Sault Ste. Marie”, known as “The Soo” because that’s how you pronounce “Sault.” I wonder if that word, meaning “jump” in French, relates to the portage, which would have been necessary during the days that voyageurs paddled their way into the interior of the continent past this connection between Lake Huron and Lake Superior.
But who can tell me why there’s a city named “St. Cloud?” Is there a saint named Cloud? I do have a bee in my bonnet about place names. I live in Gibsons, which is named after a fellow named Gibson. It was originally Gibson’s Landing, which makes sense because it was a place to land owned by Mr. Gibson. But somehow in the ages we dropped the “Landing” which would have left “Gibson’s” (I see many a sign with this on it) but of course the grammarians like me couldn’t live a possessive noun without a possessive complement, so the apostrophe was dropped and we have simply “Gibsons.”