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 FormEtymologyPoSDefinitionModern ExamplesHistorical Evidence SND LinkDOST LinkNotes
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
whamquhawmeON hvammrna dale or valley, a broad hollow among hills (with a stream), a little glen; a hollow piece of ground (in a field), a depressionThe Whaum (St Andrews); Wham Park (Stirlingshire); Whoam Park (West Lothian); Whoam Quarry (West Lothian)Quhawmes 1594; wester quhawme 1635; Whalmfoot 1635-6; Sandy Wham 1773wham n1quhawme n
whin, funquhinON *hvin, ME whinnthe common gorse or furzeWhins of Milton (Stirlingshire); Whin Park (Inverness, Stirlingshire); Whinhill Park (Edinburgh); Whinrig Hill (Berwickshire); Whinrigg (North Lanarkshire); Whins (Fife); Whinbush (Aberdeenshire)Quhins 1629; Whin 1755; Whins 1773; Figgate Whins 1893whin n2; fun n1quhin, quhine, whin n1
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
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
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
gillgilON gilna narrow valley with steep, rocky sides; a ravine, a gullyRaegill (Dumfriesshire); Stanygill (Roxburghshire); Haregills (Dumfriesshire); Bowman's Gill (Midlothian); Howgill (Dumfriesshire)Rauengille a1238; Smalgyllis 1373; Cowsowgill 1481-82; Hairgills 1637gill n2; S1 gill n2; S2 gill n2gil(l, gyll n1
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
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
inchinch; inshGael innisnan island; a piece of ground rising in the middle of a plain; a low-lying tract of ground on a river bank (sometimes cut off at high tide)Wester Inshes (Inverness); South Inch (Aberdeenshire); The King's Inch (Renfrewshire); Inchwood (Stirlingshire); Little Inch (Fife); Netherinch (Stirlingshire); Heatherinch (Fige)Redinche 1198-9; Stan Inche 13thC; le Kingis Inche 1450; Sanct Serfis ynche 1567; Keyth Inch c1680inch ninch n2; ins(c)h
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
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
spoutspoutME spowtena well, a forceful movement or discharge of water; a spring of water (issuing from the ground or a rock); a waterfall, a cascade, a cataract; a narrow enclosed defile or pathway, a gully in the face of cliffs; a narrow lane between houses; a pipe or conduitThe Red Spout (Aberdeenshire); Lynn Spout (Ayrshire); Spout Wells (Perthshire, Wigtownshire); Lochspouts (Ayrshire); Black Spout (Aberdeenshire, Perthshire); Spout Park (West Lothian); Corrie Spout (Stirlingshire); Garnock Spout (Renfrewshire); Spout of Ballagan (Stirlingshire)Sanct Mwngowis Spowtis 1558; Spoutwellis 1585-6; Spoutwells 1662; The Spout of Welltrees 1807spout n; S2 spout nspout 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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
edgeegeOE ecgnan edge; the crest of a sharp ridgeWindy Edge (Fife, West Lothian); Edgeface (Stirlingshire); Muiredge (Fife); Edgefield (Midlothian); Lamblair Edge (Roxburghshire); Edgefauld Road (Glasgow); Cairn Edge (Midlothian)Soltray ege 1455; Windiaige 1596; Eadestoun eadge 1603; Edgeberry 1773edge nege, egge n
spitalspittalME spitelna hospice or shelter for travellers (in mountainous country); a house or place of refuge for the sick or destitute; land whose revenue supported a hospital; the hospital itselfSpital (Dunbartonshire); The Spittal Haugh (Aberdeenshire); Spittalburn (Angus); Spittal of Glenmuick (Aberdeenshire); Spittalrig (East Lothian); Spital Shore (Ross and Cromarty); Spittal (East Lothian); Port of Spittal (Wigtownshire)Spetelcrag 1208-14; Spyttalhillis 1310; Spittaltoun 1565-6; Spittellis Hospitell 1641; Spittall Haugh 1721spital nspit(t)al(l, spit(t)ell nSee also DOST hospitale 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.)