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 FormOlder Scots FormEtymology PoSDefinitionModern ExamplesHistorical EvidenceSND LinkDOST LinkNotes
greengreneOE grēnengrassy ground, a grassy place; an open piece of grassy ground (in the grounds of a manor or castle); a town or village greenGlasgow Green (Glasgow); Parson's Green (Edinburgh); Magdalen Green (Dundee); Gunsgreen (Berwickshire); Greens of Gardyne (Angus); Schilgreen (Roxburghshire); Gretna Green (Dumfriesshire); Blairsgreen (Fife)Schelgrene c1320; Wodgrenystoun 1359; Gownisgrein 1580; Smiddiegrein 1652green n; S1 green n; S2 green ngrene, grein n
hawkhauk, halkOE hafocna hawkHawkhill (Angus, Ayrshire, Fife); Hawkslaw (Berwickshire); Hawksnest (Roxburghshire); Halk Law (Midlothian); Hawknest Rig (Dumfriesshire); Hagbrae (Midlothian); Hawkshole (Dumfriesshire)Hawkeschaws c1320; Haucsland 1379; Haukheid 1405; Haukhirst 1457hawk nhawk, hauk n; halk n
haughhauch, halchOE halhna piece of level alluvial ground on the banks of a river, river- meadow landCarterhaugh (Angus); Haughend (Perthshire); The Spittal Haugh (Aberdeenshire); Rosehaugh (Morayshire, Ross and Cromarty); Haugh of Ballechin (Perthshire); The Haugh (Inverness); Haughhead (South Lanarkshire)le Haulch 1373; le Quenys Hauche 1457; the halch of Tannadys 1494; Hervis Haucht 1546; Barhaugh 1596haugh n; S1 haugh n; S2 haugh nhauch n1; ADDS hauch n1; halch n
haliehalyOE hāligaholyHolyrood (Edinburgh); Hallidean (Roxburghshire); Holywood (Dumfriesshire); Holywell (Aberdeenshire)Haliwelburn a1230; Halistane 1329; Halywell 1398; Helliman Rig 1881halie adj; S2 halie adjhaly a; holy, holly a
hause, hasshalsOE hals, ON halsna neck; a defile, a narrow passage between hills, the head of a pass; a narrow neck of water; a narrow connecting ridge between two heights on a watershed’Packman's Hass (Peeblesshire); Broomhass (Kirkcudbrightshire); Hass o' Ramna Geo (Orkney); Watchy Hass (Dumfriesshire); Peat Hass (Kirkcudbrightshire); The Hawse (Edinburgh); Mennock Hass (Dumfriesshire); Dub of Hass (Kirkcudbrightshire); West Hass (Orkney); Hass (Kirkcudbrightshire); Guile Hass (Dumfriesshire); Hause Burn (Kirkcudbrightshire)Cairn-brae-hawse 1822; Hankhass 1832; The Hawse 1852; Broomhass 1852; Mennock-hass 1874hause n; S2 hause nhals n; ADDS hals n
hairhare, horeOE hārahoary, grey or white (with age); covered with mould or rime; (of a stone) marking a boundaryHarestanes (Dunbartonshire); Harcarse (Berwickshire); Haregills (Dumfriesshire); Harelawhill (West Lothian); Harestanes Heights (Dumfriesshire)Hares(ch)awes a1240; Harestan c1320; Hairstaines 1673; Harestone 1753hair adjhare, hair a; hore, hoir a
hine, havenhane, havinOE hæfenna haven, a (natural) harbourEast Hain (Fife); Buckhine (Fife); Longhaven (Aberdeenshire); Broad Haven (Caithness); Sandhaven (Aberdeenshire); North Haven (Aberdeenshire); West Haven (Aberdeenshire)le Bellehauen 1369; the hayne of Wigtoun 1517; the hewin of Sterling 1598-99; Bucky-hine a1779hine nhavin, hevin, heavin n1; ADDS hane, hayne;Compare SND hive n and hythe n, and DOST (, hyve n
heidhede, hevidOE hēafodnthe head; the top or principal extremity; the summit or upper part of a hill or rising ground; the upper end of a town, street or passage, the end next to the main street; the head of a river or valley; a headland, cape or promontory; a jetty or pier at the entrance to a harbour’Hillhead (Glasgow); Kinnaird Head (Aberdeenshire); Townhead (Glasgow); Causewayhead (Stirling); Peterhead (Aberdeenshire); Pathhead (Midlothian); St Abb's Head (Berwickshire); Knowehead (Angus); Cleuchheads (Dumfriesshire); Deanhead (Fife); Greenhead (Roxburghshire); Hazelhead (Aberdeen)Akin-hede 1260; Hertishede a1300; the hevid of Dedryg 1431; Sancte Albis Hede 1461; Petyrheid 1544; Kynardis heid 1570heid n; S1 heid n; S2 heid nhede, heid n1; ADDS hede n1; hevid, heved n; ADDS hevid n1' hade, haed n; haid nSee also DOST toun heid n
hahallOE heall, hallna large and spacious building, the residence of a magnate; a farm-house (occupied by the farmer himself rather than the cottars)Sandyha (Orkney); Temple Hall (Berwickshire); Gallowha (Orkney); Clatterha (Angus); Thornyhaw (Fife); Redhall (Dumfriesshire, Midlothian); Cradlehall (Inverness); Hallyards (Midlothian)Blachall 1329; Halton 1345-50; Tempilishalle 1367; Haw off Lythquow 1489ha n; S1 ha n; S2 ha nhall, haw n; ADDS hall nSee also DOST hal(l)is n and halis, hailis n1
lawlawOE hlāwna round or conical hill, often in isolation; an artificial mound or hillock, a grave-mound or barrow; a mound of earth and shingle on the bank of a river on to which salmon nets are drawn to be emptiedSoftlaw (Roxburghshire); Black Law (Ayrshire); Lawhead (Fife); Harelaw (Berwickshire); Box Law (Ayrshire); Lawmuir (Dunbartonshire); Sauchie Law (Selkirkshire); Meikle Law (Midlothian)Raperlau c1150; Wythelawe 1147-52; Grenlaw a1159; Harlauhill c1170; Welpelaw 1222; Qwitlau 1327law n2 law n2; ADDS law n2See also DOST law n3, which may be related
liggatliggatOE hlidgeatna self-closing gate, to prevent cattle from strayingLiggat Syke (West Lothian); Whinnieliggate (Kirkcudbrightshire); Liggatt Hill (Wigtownshire); Ludgate Lodge (Edinburgh); Liggat Cheek (Kirkcudbrightshire); Luggate Burn (East Lothian); Fumart Liggat (Kirkcudbrightshire); Doddiesliggat (Dumfriesshire); Red Liggat (Wigtownshire); Stubliggat (Kirkcudbrightshire)lidyate 1170; Lidgai 1540-41; Liggate 1746; Liggat Syke 1890liggat n; S2 liggat nliggat n; lidgait n; lidyate n
linkslinkisOE hlincasnthe sandy undulating open ground covered with turf, bent grass or gorse along the sea shore on a flat part of the coast, often including sand-dunes (which is often common ground belonging to the nearest town)Links of Dunnet (Caithness); Linksfield (Aberdeen, Morayshire); Innes Links (Morayshire); Monifieth Links (Angus); Whitelinks (Aberdeenshire); Links Wood (Fife); Leith Links (Edinburgh); Links of Montrose (Angus)le lynkis de Leith 1453; le linkis de Dirltoun 1512; the eist and west linxis of Dunbar 1598-99; Leith linx 1673; Bruntsfield links 1684links n.pl.; S2 links n.pl.linkis, lynkis n. plu; ADDS linkis n. pluSee also SNDS1 links market
linnlinnOE hlynn, Gael linn(e)na waterfall, a cateract; a precipice, ravine, a deep narrow gorge; a pool in a river; a pool below a waterfallLinn o' Dee (Aberdeenshire); Lin Mill (Stirlingshire); Lindean (Selkirkshire); Linn of Muick (Aberdeenshire); Colislinn (Roxburghshire); Lynn (Fife); Bell's Linn (Roxburghshire); Linhouse (Midlothian)Lynden 1153-45; Lynnesden 1228; Clydis Lin 1649; Lintoun Linn 17thC; Corra Linn 1825linn n; S1 linn n; S2 linn nlin, linn(e, lyn(n n
heuch, heughheuchOE hōhna crag or precipice, a cliff or steep bank (overhanging a river or the sea); a glen or ravine with steep overhanging sides; (the shaft of) a pit or mine; (the steep face of) a quarryMillheugh (South Lanarkshire); Underheugh (Renfrewshire); Redheugh (Ayrshire, Roxburghshire); Ravensheugh Sands (East Lothian); Slateheugh (Midlothian); Earnsheugh (Aberdeenshire); Slack Heugh (Kirkcudbrightshire); Fastheugh (Selkirkshire); Clachan Heughs (Wigtownshire); Coalheugh Well (Ross and Cromarty); Redheughs (Midlothian); Heugh Farm (East Lothian); Port Mona Heughs (Wigtownshire)Redhuche 1388; Reidhewis 1390-1406; Reidheuchis 1528; Carisheughe 1590heuch nheuch, hewch n; huycheSee also DOST col(e-heuch n
hollinholineOE holegnna holly bushHollandbush (Stirlingshire); Hollinhirst (Dumfriesshire); Hollin Burn (Aberdeenshire); Holland Isle (Kirkcudbrightshire); Hollings (Stirlingshire); Hollen Bush (Wigtownshire)Holenbus 1620; Hollinbusch 1644; Hollings 1742; Hollinheartston 1755hollin nholin(e, holyn(e n
holm (1), howmholmOE holm, ON holmrna stretch of low-lying land beside a river (liable to flooding), a water meadow; a mound, a hollowHomehead (Aberdeenshire); Bearholms (Dumfriesshire); Demainholm (Roxburghshire); Cockholm (Midlothian); Broomholm (Dumfriesshire)Kerlyngholm c1240; Mikylholmesyd c1320; Le holme de Wardmedow 1490; Clydis Holm 1553howm n; S1 howm nholm n; ADDS holm n
hope (1)hopeOE hopna small upland valley or hollow (enclosed at the upper end by green hills or ridges); a sloping hollow between two hills; a hillDryhope (Selkirkshire); Fawhope (Roxburghshire); Harthope Burn (Dumfriesshire); Kershope (Roxburghshire); Soonhope (Berwickshire); Hopefield (Midlothian); Hyndhope (Selkirkshire); Wauchope (Dumfriesshire); Corsehope (Midlothian); Sweethope (Roxburghshire); Blackhope (Midlothain)Berhope c1190; Ruhope c1190; Elrehope c1200; Hollehope 1200-02hope n1; S1 hope n1hope, hoip 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
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
hungryhungryOE hungriga(of soil) poor, unproductive; a piece of enchanted groundHungry Hill (Dunbartonshire, Fife, West Lothian); Hungryside Bridge (Stirlingshire); Hungry Stone (Kirkcudbrightshire); Hungry Kerse (Stirlingshire)Hungrehill 1566-67; Hungriehill 1628; Hungry Hill 1755; Hungry Kerse 1849hungry adjhungry, houngrye a
hunterhuntarOE huntana huntsman, a hunterHunterland (Midlothian); Hunters Hill (Kirkcudbrightshire); Hunterfield (Midlothian); Hunter Hill (Selkirkshire); Hunterlees (South Lanarkshire)Hunterisford c1220; Ormehunterisland 1359; Hunterhill 1541; Huntarseit 1543; Hunterland 1591hunt vhuntar, hunter n1
white, fitequhiteOE hwītawhite; (of arable land) fallow, unploughed; (of hill land) covered with bent grass rather than bracken or heatherWhitelinks (Aberdeenshire); Whiteinch (Glasgow); Whitebaulks (West Lothian); Whitehill (Glasgow, Wigtownshire); Whitekirk (East Lothian); Whitehill (Argyllshire); Whitefaulds (Ayrshire); White Craig (Stirlingshire)Wythelawe1147-52; Vithemer c1150; Witehou c1165; Whiteslade 1165-85; Whiteshopes c1200white adj; S1 white adj; S2 white adj; fite adj; S1 fite adjwhit(e, whyt adj; quhite adj; fyte a
hillhill, hyllOE hyllna hill or (low) mountain; a hillock, a mound; a common moor where rough grazing rights are enjoyed jointly by neighbouring farmers; a piece of rough moorland where peats are cut, a peat-mossKaim Hill (Ayrshire); Hill of Gairney (Aberdeenshire); Sighthill (Edinburgh, Glasgow); Kinnen Hill (West Lothian); Hillhead (Glasgow); Hill of the Taing (Shetland); Hillfoot (Dunbartonshire); Hilton (Inverness); Raehills (Dumfriesshire)Herishille a1166; Urilhille c1220; Lamby hill c1220; Buttiris hyll 1552hill n; S1 hill n; S2 hill nhill, hyll n; ADDS hill n
hirsthirstOE hyrstna (hard or barren) hillock, knoll or ridge; the summit of a rocky hill; a bank of sand, shingle or gravel in a river or harbourBrocklehirst (Dumfriesshire); Brackenhirst (North Lanarkshire); Ferniehirst (Midlothian, Roxburghshire); Sandy Hirst (East Lothian); South Nettlehirst (Ayrshire)de Twa Hullyrhyrstis 1456; Brakanhirst 1475; Farnihirst 1524-25; Fairnyhirst 1599hirst nhirst, hyrst n1
hive, hythehiveOE hӯðna harbour, a haven, a landing place, an inlet among rocksSteenhive (Kincardineshire); Redhythe (Morayshire); Thornyhive Bay (Kincardineshire); Cowhythe (Morayshire); Broad Hive (Aberdeenshire)Stain-hyve 1600; Salt-coat-hive c1680; Guthrie’s hyth 1723; Thorn-hive 1825hive n; hythe nhive, hyve nCompare SND hine n and DOST havin n1 and hane

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.)