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 FormEtymologyPoSDefinition Modern ExamplesHistorical EvidenceSND LinkDOST LinkNotes
great, gretgret, greteOE grēatagreatGreatmoor (Roxburghshire); Great Knock (Peeblesshire); Great Brow (Dumfriesshire); Great Law (Midlothian); Great Hill (Peeblesshire)Gretrigesmedue c1170; Gretryg c1214; Gretlau a1300; Grittmoore 1654great adj; S2 great adjgret, grett a; grete, greit a
heatherhether, hedder, hather, hadderME hathirnheatherHedderwick (Angus, East Lothian); Heatherinch (Fife); Heatherbriggs (Aberdeenshire); Heatherstacks (Angus); Heatherwick (Fife); Heathercroft (Sutherland)Hatheruuich 1094; Hathyr brig a1300; Hatherwik 1509 Hetheruik 1654heather n; S1 heather n; S2 heather nhether, heather n; ADDS hether n, heather n; hed(d)er, heddir n; had(d)ir, had(d)er n; hather, hathir 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
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
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
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
langlangOE langalongLangholm (Dumfriesshire); Langlands (Stirlingshire); Langton (Berwickshire); Langbank (Stirlingshire); Langside (Dumfriesshire, Roxburghshire); Langfauld (Fife); Langhill (Stirlingshire); Langhaugh (Angus)Langelaw c1170; Langelandes c1200; Langeside c1225; Langefelle c1270lang adj; S1 lang adj; S2 lang adjlang adj1; ADDS lang adj1; long adj
carsekerse, carsuncertainnlow and fertile land along the bank of a riverCarse of Gowrie (Perthshire); The Carse (Inverness); Kinneil Kerse (West Lothian); Carse of Raddery (Ross and Cromarty); Carse Knowe (West Lothian); Kerse (Ayrshire); East Kerse Mains (West Lothian); Carsethorn (Kirkcudbright); Carseburn (Angus)Cars 1292; Ferycars 1359; Cars de Buthkener 1359; Kars 1390; Kers 1392; Kerse de Kambus 1451; Carse of Gowrie 1564; Kersheid 1641carse ncars, carse n; kars n; kers(e n1
nethernether, nedderOE neoþerraalower, under; the lower-sited of two places (of the same name)Netherglen (Morayshire); Nethergate (Dundee); Netherburn (South Lanarkshire); Nether Pitcastle (Perthshire); Netherthird (Kirkcudbright); Netherton of Pittendrum (Aberdeenshire); Netherbyre (Morayshire); Netherwood (Dunbartonshire)Nethirmerkhill 1363; Nethir Lebertoun 1387; Nethirkirkgate 1407; Nedyr Kyrk gate 1453; Neddirardis 1458; Nedder Pollok 1494-5nether adjnether, nather a1; ned(d)er a
blinblindOE blindanot patent to the sight, covered, hidden; obscure, dark; unfertile, unproductive, barrenThe Blind Tunnel (Glasgow); Blindwells (Angus, Fife); Blind Capul (Fife); Blindhaugh Burn (Selkirkshire); Blindwell (Stirlingshire); Blindwalls (Wigtownshire)Blyndewelle c1200; Blindethuayt c1218; Blindsyke c1350; Blyndle 1455; Blindley 1543blin, blind adj; S2 blin adjblind, blynd a
aikakeOE ācnoak, an oak treeAikrig (Dumfriesshire); Oakwood (Selkirkshire); Oakbank (Midlothian); Oakfield (Fife)Akedene c1204; Aikwod 1567-68; Aikrig 1662; Oak Wood 1684aik n; S2 aik n; oak nake, aik n; ADDS ake, aik n; (oke) ock(e n
auld, owld, oldald, auld, oldOE aldaold; former, previousAuldhame (East Lothian); Auldgirth (Dumfriesshire); Auldhall (Fife, Stirlingshire); Old Liston (Midlothian); Auldcastle Road (Inverness); Oldmeldrum (Aberdeenshire)Aldeham 1094; Aldehamstoc 1127; Aldestelle 1136; Aldetuneburne c1200; Auldton 1329auld adj; S1 auld adj; S2 auld adj; old adj; S1 old adj; S2 old adj; owld adj; S2 owld adjald, auld a; old(e, ould(e a
thiefthefeOE þīof, þēof ON þiófrnone who steals, a robber or thiefThief Sike (Roxburghshire); Thiefs Cave (Perthshire); Thieves Knowes (Shetland); Thief's Hill (Dunbartonshire)Theuisford 1147-60; Theuisbrig 1493; theiffis brig 1501-2; Theiffis-port 1574-75thief n; S1 thief nthef(e, theif(e, thief 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
peatpete?Celtic *pett, OIr pitnpeatPeat Burn (Kirkcudbrightshire); Peathill (Fife); Peatrig Hill (Midlothian); Peatrig (Kirkcudbrightshire); Peat Inn (Fife); Peat Knowes (Kirkcudbrightshire); Peat Law (Midlothian); Peat Hass (Kirkcudbrightshire)petemyre (of Dontarvy) 1431; Peitrig 1535; Peithill Knoll 1549-50; Peithill Syik 1549-50; Peitaker 1562-62peat n1; S2 peat n1pete, peit n1
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
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
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
derndern, darnOE derneasecret, obscure, hidden; dark, dreary, lonely, desolateDerncleugh (Aberdeen); Darnick (Roxburghshire); Darnrig Moss (Stirlingshire); Dernfurd (Aberdeenshire)Dernewic c1136; Dernewick 1584; Dernfurd 1662; Derne Moss 1684dern adj; S2 dern adjdern(e, darn(e a
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
east, aistest, eistOE ēastasituated in the east, easternEastfield (Glasgow); East Craigs (Edinburgh); East Kilbride (South Lanarkshire); Eastgate (Inverness); East Neuk (Fife); East Grain (Aberdeenshire); East Voe of Quarff (Shetland)Estfulhope c1240; Estcrag 1278; Est Nesebit 1296; Estschelys 1359; Estwod 1373east adj; S2 east adj; aist adjest, eist a
northnorthOE norþasituated in the north, northerlyNorthfaulds (South Lanarkshire); North Haven (Aberdeenshire); North Berwick (Berwickshire); North Queensferry (Fife); North Shiel (West Lothian); North Mains (Angus); Norton (Midlothian); North Kessock (Ross and Cromarty); North Grain (Angus)Northberwic c1211; Northflat 13thC; Northlandis 1306; Northbarnis 1328; Norbernys 1358; Northgat 1400north adj; S2 north adjnorth adj
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
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
thorterthortourME þwertoueraslanted, squint, awry; running across or at an oblique angleThorterdykes (Roxburghshire); Thorter Fell (Kirkcudbrightshire); Thorter Row (Dundee); Thorter Burn (East Lothian)Thwortour-Raw 1489-90; thuorter land 1490; thortyrland 1535; thuortour gaittis of Korstoun 1569; thorter raw 1720thorter adjthorto(u)r, thwortour, thwartour adj

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.)