Place-Name Glossary

This is a glossary of Scots words which are used in place-names. Each entry gives the meaning of the word, alongside linguistic notes (discussed below) and modern and historical examples of the word in actual place-names in Scotland.

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Modern Form Older Scots FormEtymologyPoSDefinitionModern ExamplesHistorical EvidenceSND LinkDOST LinkNotes
slackslakON slakkinhollow or depression in the ground; a valley between hills; a low-lying waterlogged depression in the ground, a marsh, a morass, boggy ground on a valley floorSlackhead (Banffshire); Gateslack (Dumfriesshire); Aikie Slack (Kirkcudbrightshire); Slacks of Glencarvie (Aberdeenshire); Windy Slack (Midlothian); Mitchellslacks (Dumfriesshire); Beeslack (Midlothian)Catslak 1456; How Slak 1458-59; Grene-slak 1540; Broom Slack 1565; Chamar Slack 1719; St Ethernens Slack 1723slack n2; S2 slack n2slak n1
skerrieskerryON skerna skerry, an isolated reef or rocky islet in the seaSkerry of the Sound (Orkney); Covsea Skerries (Morayshire); Seal Skerry (Orkney); Skerries of Fuglaness (Shetland); Little Skerries (Morayshire)Selchiskerrie; 1634; Skerrie of Burrafirth 164; Selchskerrie 1655; Inner Skerry 1887skerrie n; S2 skerrie nskerry nCompare DOST skelly n and SND skerrie n2; see also DOST skirrach n
skellieskelly? OIr sceillecna skerry, a ridge of rock on a seashore (covered at high water)Maw Skelly (Angus); Skellies Rocks (Fife); The Skellies (Aberdeenshire); Mary's Skelly (Fife); Longskelly Point (East Lothian); Corskelly (Aberdeenshire); Cuttyskelly (Fife)the quheit skellie 1577; Mill Skelly 1855; Westland Skelly 1855; Skelly Rocks 1864skellie n2skelly nCompare DOST skerry n and SND skerrie n
sideside, sydeOE sīdena side, a slope or hillside; the edge of a forest; a bank or shore of a river or sea, the lands adjacent to a waterway; an area lying adjacent to or at the side of a particular building, place or route; a seashoreKelvinside (Glasgow); Morningside (Edinburgh); Mosside of Kirkbuddo (Angus); Braeside of Cults (Fife); Myreside (Angus); Thickside (Roxburghshire); Bemersyde (Berwickshire); Gateside (Angus); Breckonside (Dumfriesshire)Cirnside c1098; Galtunesside a1153; Birchinsyde 12thC; Fausydde a1199; Bemersyd c1220; Grenesid c1220side n; S2 side nsid(e nSee also DOST gat(e-syd(e n, water-side n and bra-side n
shielscheleME schelena rude (wooden) hut, a temporary building for seasonal accommodation or storage, a bothy; a shed; an outhouse; a small cottage, a hovel; a piece of pasturage on which a hut has been built, a summer pasturage; a shelter used by fishermen; a sheepcot; a summer or country retreat in the hills occupied by the gentryFoulshiels (Roxburghshire); Shiels of Glendui (Aberdeenshire); Ketlleshiel (Berwickshire); North Shiel (West Lothian); Shielhill (Aberdeenshire, Angus); Cauldshiel (East Lothian); Galashiels (Selkirkshire); Shielwalls (Stirlingshire)Bothkillscheles a1159; Windicheles c1200 Schotteschales 1202-8; Mayschelis a1214shiel n; S1 shiel nschele, s(c)heil(l n
sheepschepe, chepeOE scēap, scēpn(a) sheepSheepbridge (Fife); Sheep Lairs (Kirkcudbrightshire); Sheep House (Midlothian); Sheep Hill (Kirkcudbrightshire)Scypwel c1143-47; Schipwell 1165-1214; Schepehinche 1261; Schypinche 1262; Shepwell 1337; Schephalche 1374-75sheep n1; S2 sheep n2s(c)hep(e, s(c)heip, s(c)hip n; chep(e, cheip n2
shawschawOE sceaga, scaga, ON skagina small (natural) wood, a copse, a thicket, a grove; a bank of narrow ground at the top which broadens out towards the footPollokshaws (Glasgow); Shawhead (North Lanarkshire); Shaw Brae (Kirkcudbrightshire); Kirkshaws (North Lanarkshire); Shaw Hill (Wigtownshire); Shaw Fell (Kirkcudbrightshire)Haresawes a1240; Crennescawe 1214-49; Swynschawis 1265; Langesawe 1294; Hawkeschaws 1315-21shaw n2s(c)haw n1
shankschankOE scangana downward spur or projection of a hill, a descending ridge which joins a hill summit to the plainShankfoot (Kirkcudbright); Shank (Midlothian); Shankend (Roxburghshire); Shank of Inchgrundle (Angus); Shank Cleugh (Midlothian); Meg's Shank (Dumfriesshire); Shankend Wood (Midlothian)Schanke c1320; Cammo Schaunkis 1507 Bowshank 1593; The Shankfot croft 1690shank ns(c)hank n
seggysegyME seggyadjsedgy, covered in or bordered with sedge or sedges; (marshy)Seggieden (Angus, Fife); Seggiecrook (Banffshire); Seggy Neuk (Kirkcudbrightshire); Seggiehill (Fife); Seggy Gut (Kirkcudbrightshire)Segyden 12thC; Seggymir 1302; Seggywellisheuid c1318; Segidene 1466seg n1; seggy adjseg(g)y adj
seatseteON sǽtina high, saddle-shaped and conspicuous hill; a dwelling house, a country seat, a place of habitationArthur's Seat (Edinburgh); Earl's Seat (Stirlingshire); Foresterseat (Morayshire); St Arnold's Seat (Angus); Leven Seat (Midlothian); Mowat's Seat (Angus)Kingesseteburne 1165-90; Pronewessete c1180; Keluesete 1165-1214; Kingessete c1200seat n; S1 seat nDOST sete, seit(e n
scrog, scroggscrogME skroggnbrushwood or scrub, thickets of bushes or small trees; an area or piece of land covered with scrub or brushwood; a stunted or crooked bush or low tree, a stump or root of a tree, a crabapple treeScroghill (Aberdeenshire); Scrogs of Drumruck (Kirkcudbrightshire); Scroggs (Dumfriesshire); Scrogbank (Selkirkshire); Crossford Scroggs (Dumfriesshire)terram de Scrogges c1208; Scrogisston 1476; Scrogbank 1595; Priesthaugh Scrogg 1805scrog n1; S2 scrog n1; scrag nscrog(g, skrog(g n
sandysandyOE sandigaconsisting of, or covered in sand; sandySandy Hirst (East Lothian); Sandyford (Dunbartonshire); Sandystones (Roxburghshire); Sandyhill (Fife); Sandy Knowes (North Lanarkshire); Sandilands (South Lanarkshire); Sandydub (Fife)Sandilandis 1348; Sandystanis 1499-1500; Sande Knowis 1550; Sandieburne 1632sandy adjsandy adj; S2 sandy adj
sand, saunsandOE sandnsand, sandy ground, the sea-shore, a beachSandend (Banffshire); Sandhead (Wigtownshire); Seton Sands (East Lothian); Sandgreen (Kirkcudbrightshire); Sands of Luce (Wigtownshire); Sand Brae (Aberdeenshire); Silver Sands (Morayshire); Sand Mill (Wigtownshire); Sands (Fife)Joymersandes c1240; Burch-in-the-sand la14thC; Sand halch 1435; Sandfurde 1449; the sandis of Mussilburghe 1561; sandhalff c1616sand n; S2 sand nsand n
ruid, roodrud, ruidOE rōdna cross, a religious symbol, a chapel or church of the Holy Rood; a plot or unit of land; a piece of ground apportioned from the land belonging to a burgh to anyone wishing to set up house thereon and to cultivate the remainderHolyrood (Edinburgh); Roodlands (East Lothian); Shortroods (Renfrewshire); Roodyards (Angus); Roodland (Ayrshire)de Huntrodes apud Eccles 13thC; Rauphysrohd c1350; Stokrude 1413; Borrow Roods 1764ruid nrud(e, ruid n1; reed nSee also DOST (rede), reid n6; DOST Burrow rudis n and DOSTBorow ruidis n
ringringOE hringna ring; a circular earthwork, a pre-historic hill-fort; a circle of standing stonesThe Ring of Brodgar (Orkney); St Bride's Ring (Angus); Ring (Fife); Ring Liggat (Kirkcudbrightshire); The Rings (Peeblesshire)Ringuude 1165-1214; Ryngwodfelde 14thC; Ringwoodfield 1664; Ringhill 1832ring n1; S2 ring n1ring n1; rang n
rig, riggrygON hryggr, OE hrycgna ridge of high ground, a long narrow hill, a hill-crest; a strip of ploughed land (raised in the middle and sloping towards the sides), a measure of land; a strip of land leased for building in a Scottish burgh (usually with a narrow street frontage and a considerable extension backwards); a chain of hills, rocks or islandsBroomrigg (Dumfriesshire); Rigghouse (West Lothian); Rigghead (Dumfriesshire); Oatrigg (West Lothian)Gret rigesmedue c1170; Todholerig 1165-82; Mosiburnerig 1195-96; Burnerig 1165-1214rig n1; S1 rig n1; S2 rig n1rig, ryg(g n
reidrede, ridOE rēadared or reddish in colourRedhouse (Fife); Redhall (Midlothian); Redpath (Berwickshire); Red Road (Glasgow); Redkirk (Dumfriesshire); Redwells (Fife); Red Liggat (Wigtownshire); Redheugh (Ayrshire, Roxburghshire); Red Moss (Caithness); Redhall (Dumfriesshire)Redford 12thC; Redinch 1198-9; Reidfurde 1214-29; Rydnure 1348; Ridhalchis Mowse 1475reid adj; S1 reid adj; S2 reid adjred(e, reid adj; rid, redd(e adj
rawrawOE rāwna row of houses, of a uniform design and with common gables; cottages for miners or farm-servants; a street comprising such a line of housesLangraw (Fife, Roxburghshire); Angelrow (Berwickshire); Fisherrow (Midlothian); Dykeraw (Roxburghshire); Rottenrow (Glasgow); Potterrow (Edinburgh); Westraw (South Lanarkshire)Mukeraw c1248; Bagraw 14thC; Kirkraw 1364; Curquhewraw 1375raw n1; S2 raw n1raw, rau(e n; row n3See also DOST Rat(t)o(u)n raw and DOST Routton raw
rae, rayra, roOE rānthe roe deerRaehills (Dumfriesshire); Raeshaw (Midlothian); Raeburn (Dumfriesshire); Rawburn (Berwickshire); Roebuck's Seat (Perthshire); Raegill (Dumfriesshire)Rasawe 1208; Le Raahill 1456; Raa loch 1510-11; Reyschaw 1627rae n1ra, ray n1; ro, roe n2
ra'en, ravenravinOE hræfn, ON hrafnna ravenRavenscraig (Aberdeenshire, Fife, North Lanarkshire); Ravensheugh Sands (East Lothian); Ravensneuk (Midlothian); Redden (Roxburghshire); Ravenshaugh Burn (Midlothian)Rauendenam c1140; Rauenesfen a1190; Rauengille a1238; Revenysden 1275ra'en nravin, rawin, revin n1
quoyquyON kvína piece of land (originally part of the common pasture) which had been enclosed and cultivated as part of a farm’Quoy Sinclair (Orkney); Quoys of Reiss (Caithness); Mossquoy (Orkney); Quoy Park (Orkney); Quoyhenry (Orkney)Sanct Margarettis quoy 1591; quoygrahame 1634; St Katharein's quoyes 1706; Castle quoy 1766quoy n; S1 quoy nquoy n2; quy, qui n2See also DOST quyland n and quoyland n
queen, wheenqueneOE cwēnna queen, the queenSouth Queensferry (West Lothian); North Queensferry (Fife); Queen's Park (Glasgow); Queenshaugh (Stirling); Queen's Seat (Fife)Qwenys-ferry c1420; le quenys Hauche 1457; Quenis fery1480; Queen's Seat 1773queen n; S2 queen n; wheen n2quen(e, quein n1
quarter, wharterquarterOF quartier, quarterna fourth part (of a territory, sherrifdom, burgh, estate or land)North Quarter (Fife); Millquarter (Kirkcudbrightshire); Forresterquarter (Stirlingshire); South Quarter (Fife); Milnquarter (Stirlingshire); Quarterland (Kirkcudbrightshire); Westquarter (Stirlingshire); Quarter Wood (Peeblesshire)le Quarter 1512; Wol-Quarter 1620; Mayne-Quarter 1620; Wastquarter 1631quarter n; S1 quarter n; S2 quarter n; wharter nquarter, quartar(e nCompare SND corter n and SND S2 corter n
quarrelquarrell, correll? Latin quarreliana stone quarryQuarrelhead (North Lanarkshire); Quarrelwood (Dumfriesshire, Morayshire); Quarrel End (Kirkcudbrightshire); Quarrel Hill (Ayrshire); Quarrel Burn (Midlothian); Quarrel Knowe (Kirkcudbrightshire); Coral Glen (Ayrshire)Quarelgate 1337; Quarelwode 1369; Querrellwod 1496; Quarrel Howe 1794; Corral Glen 1885quarrel n1quar(r)el(l, quer(r)el(l n2; corrall; correll; quarrew, quarroue
puilpuleOE pōl, OE pyllna pool, a pond, a small expanse of standing water; a pool in a river; (in Shetland) a small marsh, a patch of swampy groundCockpool (Dumfriesshire); Boretree Pool (Kirkcudbrightshire); Piperpool (Fife); Alder Pool (Kirkcudbrightshire); Stirkpool (Dumfriesshire); Washing Pool (Kirkcudbrightshire)Hum Pulles 1198-1214; Blakepol c1190; le Pulle 1359; Sloypule 1456; the pwll of Monboy 1458; Foull Poull 1557-78puil n; S2 puil npule, puil(l n

Glossary compiled by Dr Alison Grant of Scottish Language Dictionaries and the Scottish Place-Name Society.

Linguistic Notes

The glossary provides the Modern Scots form of each place-name element, and then traces the word back through the Older Scots form to its etymological root. Illustration of the development of each element is found in the historical forms, and modern usage is illustrated by the current place-name examples provided. The glossary also provides references to the two major Scots dictionaries, the Scottish National Dictionary (SND) and the Dictionary of the Older Scottish Tongue (DOST) together with any relevant supplementary material (the first SND supplement is marked S1, and the second S2, and the additions to DOST are marked ADDS). These dictionaries can be accessed online at www.dsl.ac.uk. Further supplementary material has been added from two 1940s Ph. D. theses, The Non-Celtic Place-Names of the Scottish Border Counties by May Williamson and The Place Name of Midlothian by Norman Dixon, both of which are available for consultation in the ‘resources’ section of the Scottish Place-Name Society website. The glossary contains Scots words derived from Old English, Old Norse, Middle Dutch, Anglo-Norman French and Latin, together with more recent loan-words from Gaelic and Insular Norn. For example, the whilst ‘glen’ is primarily a Gaelic place-name element, occurring in names such as Glen Affric and Glenmore, the word was also borrowed into Scots, where it was used to form names such as Glenhead and Glens of Foudland. Similarly, although names in ‘geo’ are often from Old Norse gjá, including Ramnageo and Papilgeo, the word was also borrowed into Scots from Norn, and used to coin names such as Millburn Geo and Geo of Dykesend.Counties (where given) are pre-1975 local government reorganisation.

PoS = Part of Speech (noun, adjective, etc.)