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 FormEtymologyPoS DefinitionModern ExamplesHistorical EvidenceSND LinkDOST LinkNotes
threapthrepe, threipME Þrepena dispute, a quarrel (with regard to ownership of land)Thriepland (Banffshire); Threaprig (North Lanarkshire); Threepwood (South Lanarkshire); Threapmuir (Kinross-shire); Threipmuir Reservoir (Midlothian)Threpland c1200; Hafthrepland 1383; Threpleche 1425; threpfelde 1463threap n, S2 threap nthrep(e, threip n
todtodME todna foxTodhills (Angus, Midlothian); Todrig (Berwickshire); Todrigs Burn (Ayrshire); Todholes (Caithness, Dumfriesshire); Todlhole Knowe (Midlothian); Todhillock (Aberdeenshire); Todhead Point (Kincardineshire)Todholerig 1165-82; Thodholesid 1214-49; Todlaw 1222; Todhillis 1587; Todhoillis 1621tod n1tod 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
trontroneOF tronenthe public steelyard or weighing-machine in a burgh, set up in or near the market-place for the weighing of various types of heavy or coarse goods; the district around the tronTrongate (Glasgow); Tron Kirk (Edinburgh); St George's-Tron Church (Glasgow); Tron (Edinburgh); Tron Knowe (North Lanarkshire)Tronum de Edinburgh 1446; Troyne Gait 1545; Troingait 1553; Tron kirk 1689; Tron-knowe 1880tron ntron(e nSee also SNDS1 trouan n
voevoe, woON vágrnan inlet of the sea, a deep bay or long creek, a fjordVoe of Sound (Shetland); East Voe of Quarff (Shetland); West Voe of Sumburgh (Shetland); Voe of Clousta (Shetland)Voe of Sara 1733; North Voe 1832; South Voe 1832; East Voe of Scalloway 1887voe n; S2 voe nvo(e, wo n
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
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
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
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
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
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
wrichtwrichtOE wyrhtana wright, a wood-worker or carpenterWrightshouses (Midlothian); Wright's Knowe (Kirkcudbrightshire); Wrighthill (Ayrshire); Wrights Croft (Aberdeenshire); Wrightfield (Ross and Cromarty)Wrychtyshousis 1382; Wrichtishouse(s) 1458; Wrychtland 1531-32; Wreuchtsland 1630wricht nwricht, wrycht, wrech(t n
wuidwodeOE wudunan area of trees (smaller than a forest), a stretch or piece of woodland; (of a place) wooded, consisting of treesWoodlands (Glasgow); Legerwood (Berwickshire); Holywood (Dumfriesshire); Woodend (Aberdeen); Williamwood (Glasgow); Woodneuk (Renfrewshire); Harwood (Roxburghshire); Woodinch (Perthshire); Woodmill (Fife)Swinewde 1097-1107; Wudehorn 1152; Ringwude 1153-65; Ledgerdwode 1165-73; Wudeschirche c1180wuid n: S1 wuid n; S2 wuid nwod(e n
yettʒetOE geatna gate, a gateway or entrance to a town or building; a natural pass or defile between hillsKirk Yetholm (Roxburghshire); Brae of Yetts (Dunbartonshire); Broadyetts (West Lothian); Rashlieyett (Ayrshire); Moatyett (South Lanarkshire); Wateryett (Ayrshire)le Barres ʒeth 1487; Sanct Leonards yettis 1553-54; Rodin Yett 1568; Mekill Yet 1590; Yetts of Keppel 1828; Yetts of Muckart 1845yett n1; S2 yett n1ʒet(t, yet(t 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.)