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
graingrainON greinnthe branch or fork of a stream or river, an arm of the sea; a branch of a valley, a tributary valley; the branch of a treeCrooked Grain (Aberdeenshire); Grains of Fetteresso (Kincardineshire); Black Grain (Selkirkshire); Grains of Tanar (Abderdeenshire); Haregrain (Roxburghshire); East Grain (Aberdeenshire); Grains (Dumfriesshire); The Grains (Abderdeenshire); Fernie Grain (Midlothian); Burngrains (Dumfriesshire); Wolf Grain (Aberdeenshire); Tod Grain (Dumfriesshire); Burn Grains (Kirkcudbrightshire)Blakgrane 1456; Fauhopgranys 1456; Blakgrane 1510; Graines 1635grain n2grain(e, grane n2
miltonmilntounOE myln + tūnnthe buildings comprising a mill; the farm adjacent to a mill and tenanted by the miller; a hamlet which has grown up around a millMilton of Campsie (Dunbartonshire); Milton of Balgonie (Fife); Waulkmilton (Stirlingshire); Milton of Whitehouse (Aberdeenshire); Milton of Tullich (Aberdeenshire); Milltown of Phingask (Aberdeenshire); Milton (Dumfriesshire, Fife, Glasgow, Inverness); Miltongreen (Fife); Milton of Ogilvie (Angus); Milton of Leyes (Inverness)milnetun 13thC; Mylnetoun c1240; myltoune of Concragy 1491; myllnetoun of Dunblane 1601; milltun of Lausie 1708mill nmiln-toun, myltoune 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
gledgledOE glidanthe common kite; a hawkGladswood (Berwickshire); Gledsnest (Roxburghshire); Gladhouse (Midlothian); Gledehills (Fife); Gled Hill (West Lothian); Gladsmoor (Wigtownshire); Glede Knowe (Midlothian); Gladgate (Fife); Glede Bog (Kirkcudbrightshire)Gledehus 1140-53; Gleddiswod c1200; Gledstanes c1354; Gledhous 1563gled n1gled n
bourtreebourtreME burtrenthe elder treeBourtreebush (Angus); Bourtrees (Ayrshire); Bourtreehill North, Bourtreehill South (Ayrshire); Bourtree Bush Park (West Lothian); Bourtreebuss (Fife)Burtrees c1320; Bourtriehill 1590; Bourtrees 1662; Bourtrie-mailing 1663bourtree n; S2 bourtree nbourtré, bowtré nsee also SND bour 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
teuchit, teewheettuchetME tuchetnthe lapwingTeuchat Knowe (Fife); Teuchatcroft (Angus); Teuchathead (Fife); Teuchatmuir (Perthshire)Tyhwitemore c1320; Tuquhyt Myre 1475; Tauchieflattes 1666; Tuewheet Law 1810teuchit n; teewheet ntuchet, tuquheit nCompare SND teeock n
brume, broombrume, bromeOE brōmnthe plant broom, bushes or stretches of broomBroompark Farm (Glasgow); Broomhill (Ross and Cromarty); Broomhouse (East Lothian, Edinburgh, Roxburghshire); Broomridge (Stirling); Broomhall (Fife); Broomlands (Dumfriesshire, Midlothian, Roxburghshire); Broomknowes (Ayrshire)Brumcrok c.1300; Bruymdyk 1490; Bromeparkis 1556; brumecroft c1567brume, brim n; S1 brume n; breem, breme n1; broom n1brume n; brome, browme 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
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
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
braebra, brayON brá, ME branthe steep or sloping bank of a river or lake or seashore, a steep slope rising from water; a bank or stretch of ground rising with a fairly steep slope, the face of a hill; a road which has a steep gradient; an upland, mountainous districtBraes of Enzie (Morayshire); Stephen's Brae (Inverness); Ethie Brae (Perthshire); Pan Braes (West Lothian); Braehead (Renfrewshire); Links Brae (West Lothian); Brae of Yetts (Dunbartonshire); Willowbrae (Edinburgh); Braeside (Stirling)le Bra de Bochquhopill 1451; bra of Cammys 1528; Hammildone bray 1556; bra of Mar 1587; South Bray 1592brae, bray(e), brea n1; S1 brae n1; S2 brae n2bra, bray, brae nSee also DOST bra-hede n
tarnty, tarantytrinitéOF trinitenthe trinity, the three aspects of the Godhead collectivelyTrinity Gask (Perthshire); Trinity (Angus, Edinburgh); Trinity College (Glasgow); Trinity Hall (Aberdeen); Trinity Church (Glasgow)le Trinite burn 1488; College of Trynite 1498-99; Trinity Mure 1692; Auld Tarrnty Ha' 1887; Taranty Muir 1892tarnty n; S1 tar(a)nty ntrinité, trinity 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
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
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

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.)