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
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
sykesikeOE sīc, ON síkna small stream; a ditch or channel containing a stream or rivulet; a marshy hollow (through which a stream flows), a cleft in the groundSikeside (North Lanarkshire); Colliesyke (West Lothian); Sauchy Sike (Dumfriesshire); Threepsikes (Fife); Adie's Syke (Midlothian); Liggat Syke (West Lothian); Whitesykes (Midlothian); Allery Sike (Dumfriesshire)Blindsyke a1398; modirsyke 1457; Foulsyik 1571; Murroksyke 1579; Fouladge syke 1665; the syke called Coallyears boignesyke 1683syke n; S2 syke nsike, syk(e nSee also DOST (siket) syketh, sichet, sychet 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
smithsmyth, smethOE smið, ON smiðrnone who works in metal, a smithSmithfield (Aberdeen, Fife); Smeaton (Fife, Midlothian); Smith's Lands (Midlothain); Smithton (Inverness)Smithetun 12thC; Smythishalch 1321; Smethwod 1327; Smeithfield 1329-71smith nsmith(e, smyth(t n
smiddiesmiddyOE smiþþe, ON smiðjana smithy, the workshop of a smith, a blacksmith’s shop, a forgeSmiddyhill (Aberdeenshire); Smiddyboyne (Banffshire); Buchanan Smithy (Stirlingshire); Smiddiecroft (Aberdeenshire); Smithy Hill (Wigtownshire); Smithyhillock (Aberdeenshire)Smythyhill 1379; Smethy Barr 1426; Smethycrofft 1456; Smedebar 1540-41smiddie n; S2 smiddie nsmithy nSee also DOST (Smiddy-land,) Smid(d)ieland, n
stanestaneOE stān, ON steinnna stone; a rock, a boundary stone, a landmark, a stone used as a meeting placeThirlestane (Berwickshire, Selkirkshire); Harestanes (Dunbartonshire, Fife, Roxburghshire); Stanerig (Stirlingshire); Shoestanes (Midlothian); Stenton (Fife); Brigstanes (Kincardineshire); Stenhouse (Dumfriesshire, Edinburgh, Fife); Brotherstone (Berwickshire, Midlothian)Staincros 1165-1214; Steinreise bech 1194-1214; Stanhus 1214-49; Thirlestan c1260; Stenhyve 1607; Steanhous 1666stane n; S1 stane n; S2 stane n; stone n1stan(e n
staniestanyOE stānigaabundant in stones; characterised by stone or stonesStaney Hill (Roxburghshire); Stoneywood (Stirlingshire); Stanygill (Roxburghshire); Stoneyhill Wood (Aberdeen); Stoneyport (Midlothian); Stonyford (Angus); Stoneyflat (Midlothian); Stonywynd (Fife); Stoneyhill (Midlothian)Staniford 1165-82; Stanyacre c1250; Stanyburne 1597; Stanie Mailing 1660 (1663)stane n; stane S2stany adj
steidstedeOE stedenan inhabited place, a hamlet or village; an area of land, a landed property or estate, a farm; a dwelling-place; the site of a building, the piece of land on which a building standsNewstead (Roxburghshire); Kirkstead (Selkirkshire); Millstead (Dumfriesshire); Castle Steads (Midlothian); Middlestead (Selkirkshire)Selestede 1165-1214; Castilsted 13thC; le stede de Kynewarde 1509; Hannykyn kill steid 1560steid n; S2 steid nsted(e, steid n1
soutersoutarOE sūterena shoemaker, a cobblerThe Sutors (Ross and Cromarty); Souterhill (Aberdeenshire); Souterhouse (North Lanarkshire); Souterland (Midlothian); Sutor Stacks (Ross and Cromarty); Souterford (Aberdeenshire)swtercrophtdyk a1325; Sutergate 1337; Sowttergait 1563; Soutarland 1696; The Cromarty Sutors 1854souter n; S2 souter nsoutar n
southsouthOE sūþasituated in, or belonging to, the south; southern, southerlySouth Inch (Aberdeenshire); South Queensferry (West Lothian); South Nettlehirst (Ayrshire); South Mains (Angus); South Kessock (Inverness); Southfield (Midlothian); South Glen (Stirlingshire)Suthberwik c1170; Sutblan 1236; Suthtun de Laynal c1248; Suthebuttes 13thC; Southgate 1449-50; Southfelde 1450south a; S2 south asouth a
swineswyneOE swīnna pig, pigsSwinewaird (Kincardineshire); Swinewood (Berwickshire); Swineside Hall (Roxburghshire); Swineford (Midlothian); Soonhope (Berwickshire); Swine's Cleugh (Midlothian); Swinedrum (Kirkcudbrightshire); Swine Fell (Wigtownshire)swhynhope c1200; Swineshales 1230; Swineford 1258; Swynschawis 1265swine nswine, swyn(e n
swireswyreOE swīra, ON svírina hollow or declivity between hills (through which a road runs); a hollow or level place near the top of a hill; a neck (of land)Redeswire Fray (Roxburghshire); Roughsware (Midlothian); Swyre (Dumfriesshire); Sware Brae (Kirkcudbrightshire); Swire Knowe (Roxburghshire); Dewar Swire (Midlothian); Sware Burn (Dumfriesshire); Sware Head (Kirkcudbrightshire); Sware Knowe (Dumfriesshire); Swire Syke (Roxburghshire); Ludsgill Sware (Dumfriesshire)Hethouswyre 1214-49; Buchswyre 1327; Reid Swyre 1575; Hardhaugh swire c1800swire nswire, swyr(e n
templetempilOE templ, OF templenproperty or lands in the possession of the order of the Knights Templar or later the HospitalersTemplandmuir (Ayrshire); Temple (Midlothian); Templehall (Angus, Berwickshire, Fife); Temple of Boclair (Dunbartonshire); Temple Park (Midlothian)Templeacre c1190; Tempilhalle 1368-69; Tempilhil 1446; Tempil Liston 1464temple n1tempil(l, temple n1See also DOST tempil(l)land n
temple-landtempilllandOE templ, OF temple + OE landnland given or belonging to the Knights Templar and as such not subject to teindsTempleland (Angus, Fife); Templeland Road (Edinburgh, Glasgow); Templeland Cottage (South Lanarkshire); Templeland Farm (Aberdeenshire)Tempylland 1376-77; Tempilland 1446; tempilland of Dalgernow 1454-55; tempilland of Henderstoun 1611; temple land of St. Johns 1694temple n1tempil(l)land nSee also DOSTtempil(l, temple n1
tolltolOE tollna tax or duty; a checkpoint on a turnpike road where tolls were collected, a toll-bar; (a collection point for) tolls on imported or exported goods, or the privelege of selling goods in a marketEglington Toll (Glasgow); Cameron Toll (Edinburgh); Barnhill Tollhouse (Perth); Tollcross (Edinburgh, Glasgow); Toll Bar Cott (Kirkcudbright); Clushford Toll (Fife); Bonnybridge Toll (Stirlingshire)tolbotha de Suthbervyc 1283-98; le Tolcorse 1458; Towcross 1662; Cairntows 1773toll n1tol(l nSee also DOST tolbuth(e, towbuth(e n and SND tolbooth n
tountounOE tūnna farm (and farm buildings); a hamlet inhabited by estate tenants; a villlage, a burgh, a town; (in Shetland) the enclosed arable ground of a farmAnderston (Glasgow); Edgerston (Roxburghshire); Mertoun (Berwickshire); Ferryton (Ross and Cromarty); Beckton (Dumfriesshire); Smithton (Inverness); Westerton (Glasgow); Templeton (Angus); Synton (Selkirkshire)Hadyton 1098; Sprostona 1119-24; Clerchetun c1141; Kyrchetune c1145; Hadingtoun a1150; Langtune c1150toun n; S1 toun n; S2 toun ntoun, town(e, ton(e nSee also DOST toun end n and toun heid n
weelweilOE wǣlna deep pool in a river or a narrow part of an estuary or the sea; a whirlpoolBloody Wiel (Wigtownshire); Maxwellheugh (Roxburghshire); Reidweil (Kirkcudbrightshire); Cairdie Wiel (Wigtownshire); Scar Weil (Kirkcudbrightshire); Old Weal (Roxburghshire); Cantin Wiel (Wigtownshire)Macch'swel 1159; Sant Katrynis weill 1553; the guidwyffis weill 1586; Craigweill 1593weel n1weil(l, weel(l n
wallwellOE wælla, wiellana natural spring of water which forms a pool or spring; a source of water with medicinal, miraculous or supernatural properties, a holy well; a tide race in the seaNinewells (Dundee); Wellheads (Banffshirre); Craigswalls (Berwickshire); Drywells (Banffshire); Mungo's Walls (Berwickshire); Walton (Fife); St Mungo's Well (Aberdeenshire); Billerwell (Roxburghshire); Black Walls (Fife); Springwells (Banffshire); Blindwells (Angus)Macchuswel 1159; Kalde Welle c1190; Kersewelle 1195; Blynd Wollis 1203-22; Creswel 1214-49; Caldwell 1294wall n; S2 wall nwel(l, wal(l, wol(l n
weet, watweitOE wǣt, ON vátrawet, boggy, waterloggedWeetfoot Bog (Berwickshire); Weetfit (Fife); Wetlands (Aberdeenshire); Wetshaw (Kincardineshire); Witholm (Midlothian)Weteflatwel 1300-31; Weitschaw 1540; Weitlandis 1552-3; Vitfute 1567; Weetlands 1687weet adj; S2 weet adj; wat adjweit adj
waterwattir, watterOE wæterna large stream (between a burn and a river in size), a tributary of a river; a river valley; a lake, a sheet of waterHowe Water (Aberdeenshire); Water of Luce (Wigtownshire); Whiteadder Water (Berwickshire); Water of Leith (Edinburgh); Markie Water (Aberdeenshire); Waterside (Dumfriesshire, Wigtownshire); Eye Water (Berwickshire); Water of Tarf (Angus)Blacwater 13thC; Watirtoun 1342; watir of Dee 15thC; Wattirheid 1649water n; S1 water n; S2 water nwa(t)tir n
waterywattiryOE wæterigafull of water, well watered, wateryEaster Watery Knowe (Angus); Wester Watery Knowe (Angus); Wateryslack (Aberdeenshire); Waterybutts (Perthshire)Wattridike c1230; Watryraw 1405; Wetterybuttis 1567; Watrielawes 1664water n; S1 water n; S2 water nwattiry, wat(t)(e)ry adj
wawall, wawOE weall, wallna wall, a boundary wall; the defensive walls or ramparts (around a town or castle); (in plural) roofless buildings, ruinsDun’s Wa’s (Kirkcudbrightshire); Back o’ Wa’ (Wigtownshire); Waas (Fife); Jean's Wa's (Kirkcudbrightshire); Bratney Wa’s (Wigtownshire); Aitkin's Wa's (Kirkcudbrightshire)(The) Corsswallis 1552; the walneuk of Paislaye 1621; Schawiswallis 1622; Grahames Walls 1649; Badgels-wolls 1681; Guns Walls 1755wa n; S2 wa nwal(l, wa(w n
wedderwedderOE weðerna (castrated) male sheepWedderlie (Berwickshire); Weddersbie (Fife); Wether Law (Berwickshire); Wedder Hill (Ayrshire); Wedderlairs (Berwickshire); Wedderburn (Berwickshire)Wedyrburne 1198-1214; Wederleye c1250; Wedderlee 1494; Weddergang 1609 (1610); Wetherlairis 1628wedder nweddir, woddir, wadder, wether n2
wast, westwest, wastOE westasituated in, or belonging to, the west; westerlyWest Craigs (West Lothian); West Barns (East Lothian); West Inch (Aberdeenshire); Westraw (South Lanarkshire); West Grange (Stirling); West Haven (Aberdeenshire); Westhill (Inverness)Westfulhope 1165-1214; Westlillisclive 1214-49; Westfeld 1294; Wasthall 1544wast adj; S2 wast adjwest, wast adjSee also DOST west side n and DOST west end n
waster, westerwesterOE westerraawestern, lying to the west; the more westerly of two places (in contrast with easter)Wester Hailes (Edinburgh); Westerton (Angus, Glasgow); Wester Ross (Ross and Cromarty); Westerwood (Dunbartonshire); Wester Inshes (Inverness); Wester Pitlour (Fife); Wester Causewayend (Midlothian)Westercaledoure 1170-72; Westircarne 13thC; Wastirker 1309; Vaster Leochel 1524-25waster awester a; ouster a

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.)