Gomel is the capital of the Gomel Region and the second-largest city in Belarus with 526,872 people (2015 census).
There are at least six stories about how the city got its name. In this case, the name comes from a stream that flowed into a river near the first settlement. Polatsk and Vitsebsk are two other Belarusian cities that have their names based on rivers, like the river Palata for Polatsk and the river Vitya for Vitya.
From 1142 to the 16th century, the city was called Hom', Homye, Homiy, Homey, or Homyi in historical sources. These forms are thought to be the result of an unknown *gom that has a meaning that isn't clear. For only a few hundred years, the city has been called "modern" instead of "old."
During the Soviet era, there was another story about the city's name. Raftsmen on the river Sozh were said to shout "Ho! Ho! Mel!" to warn each other about sandbars. Some modern researchers say that the name comes from an old Belarusian greeting: "Dats u homel," which means "to pat someone on the shoulder."