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
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
air, ayre, ireayrON eyrrna gravelly beach, a gravel bank, a bed of gravelAyre of Breiwick (Shetland); Woodcock Air (Dumfriesshire); Ayre of Deepdale (Shetland); Ayre of Cara (Orkney); Ayre Dyke (Shetland); Ayre of Westermill (Orkney)Wodecok Heyr 1333-34; Wodecokheir 1360; the ayr of Kyrkwall 1539; Stour-air 1809air n4; ire n2ayr n
bankbankON bakki, *banki, ME bankena bank, a river bank; a raised shelf or ridge of ground; steep cliffs or precipitous rocks (along the coast); a hill slope; a foot-path or walk; the place in a moss from which peats are cut; the boundary line of a farmClydebank (Dunbartonshire); Bankfoot (Perthshire); Scrogbank (Selkirkshire); Meadowbank (Edinburgh); Springbank (Wigtownshire); Bankend (Dumfriesshire); Greenbank (Aberdeenshire); Nessbank (Inverness)Byrkebanke 13thC; Brerybankes 1367; Bankhede 1519; Bankend 1546bank n2, S1 bank n2, bakk n1bank n1
bentbentOE beonetna strong coarse variety of grass of a reedy or rush-like character (found on moorland or links); a place where such grass grows; a sandy hillock or a stretch of open ground covered with bent grass; a (grassy) slope or hillsideBenthead (Ayrshire, West Lothian); Gullane Bents (East Lothian); Bentfoot (North Lanarkshire); The Bents (West Lothian); White Bents (Angus)The Bentis 1586; Bents of Balruddie 1662; Broadbents 1773; Southbent 1755bent n1; S1 bent n1; bent n2bent n
bernbern, barnOE berernna barnBarnhill (Glasgow, Inverness) Kingsbarns (Fife); West Barns (East Lothian); Barnhead (Angus); Barnton (Edinburgh); Barn Hills (Wigtownshire); Barns Ness (East Lothian); Barns of Craig (Angus)Northbernis 1328; Suthbarne 1373; Berntoun 1390-1406; le Barnis 1490; bornestede 1560S1 bern n2; S2 bern n2bern n1; barn, barne n; ADDS barn n; born(e n
biggin, biggingbigging, byggyngME biggingna building, a cottage; a cluster of houses, a hamletNewbigging (Abderdeenshire, Angus, Dumfriesshire, Fife, Kincardineshire, Midlothian, Morayshire, Roxburghshire, South Lanarkshire, West Lothian); Lower Bigging(s) Upper Bigging(s) (Orkney)Newbigginghe 1153; Neubiggyng 1315; Shirrefbyggyng 1374; Neubiging 1569biggin(g), biggen', biggan n2; S2 biggin(g) n2biggin(g, byggyn(g n
bogbog, boigGael bog, bogachna bog, a mireBogton (North Lanarskhire); Bogside (Stirlingshire); Bogwells (Fife); Boghead (Dunbartonshire); Bogtown (Stirlingshire); Bogleys (Fife); Boghall (Angus)Harebogge 1359; Blakeboggys 1359; Lochlebogsyd 1374; bogside 1417; Boighaw 1478bog, boag n3bog n; ADDS bog 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
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
breckan, brechanbrakanME brakennbrackenBreckonside (Dumfriesshire); Breconrae (Dumfriesshire); Brackenhirst (North Lanarkshire); Brekenrig (Dumfriesshire); Bracken Falls (Wigtownshire); Brackenleys (Stirlingshire); Breconside (Kirkcudbrightshire); Breckenshank (Dumfriesshire)Brakanwra c1270; Brakenrig 1428; Brakanhirst 1475; Brakanrig 1504brachan, brachen, brechan n; bracken n; breckan, brecken nbrakan, braikane n1
brig, briggbrigOE brycg, ON bryggjana bridge; a reef, a long low ridge of sea-rocks; a large flat stone, a flagstoneBlackbriggs (Ayrshire, Kirkcudbrightshire); Birgham (Berwickshire); Gorebridge (Edinburgh); The Brig o Ballater; (Abderdeenshire); Brighouse (Kirkcudbrightshire); Brig o' Doon (Ayrshire); Fisherbriggs (Aberdeenshire); Briggait (Glasgow); Brigstanes (Kincardineshire); Stonebriggs (Aberdeenshire)Prestesbrige c1150; Hatherbrig c1190; Risibrigg c1240; Briggate c1266; Brighous 1337; Bryghend 1359brig n1; S1 brig n1; S2 brig n1brig, bryg 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
burnburnOE burnana brook or stream; water (from a fountain or well)Blackburn (West Lothian); Springburn (Glasgow); Netherburn (South Lanarkshire); Burn of Cruan (Orkney); Den Burn (Aberdeenshire); Burnbank (North Lanarkshire); Millburn (Inverness); Burn of Whilk (Caithness); Dryburn (Morayshire); Burnside (Fife); Burnfoot (Wigtownshire)Merburne c1170; Triernburn c1200; Bradestrothirburne c1220; Kyrkeburne 1229; le Burnhedis 1505; Burneside 1548burn n; S1 burn n; S2 burn nburn nSee also SND brin n1
cairtercarter, karterME cartarena carterCarterhaugh (Angus, Selkirkshire); Carter Bar (Roxburghshire); Carterhope Burn (Peeblesshire); Carter Fell (Roxburghshire)Carterford c1250; Cartergate c1250; Cartarehauch 1489-90; Carteryards 1657cairter ncartar(e, carter n1; karter, kairter, nSee also SND S1 cadger n
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
cleugh, cleuchcleuchOE *clōhna (narrow) gorge or ravine with steep rocky sides, usually the course of a stream; the steep side of a ravine, a cliff; a crag, a rockByrecleugh (Berwickshire); Hare Cleugh (East Lothian); Cleugh Hill (Wigtownshire); Buccleuch (Selkirkshire); The Cleuch (Midlothian); Point of the Cleugh (Wigtownshire)Edwardes-cloch c1190; Ernesclucht c1350; Westircluch-heuyd c1370; Corsclewch 1456cleugh, cleuch n; S2 cleugh ncleuch n
clint, klintclyntODan klintna cliff, a high crag, a precipice; a rock or large stone; a crevice in rocks; steep faces on a high hillClints of Drumore (Kirkcudbrightshire); Clintwood Castle (Roxburghshire); Oak Clints (Kirkcudbrightshire); Clints (Midlothian); Clints of the Buss (Kirkcudbrightshire); Clinthill (Dumfriesshire, Fife); Clints of the Spout (Kirkcudbrightshire); Sound Clint (Kirkcudbrightshire)Clinkskaillis 1556; Klintwood 1654; Clints March 1781; Clintwood 1832clint, klint n; S2 clint nclint, clynt n
connie, coney, kinnen, kunnoconing, cuningOF conin, conil, ME conyngna rabbitConey Park (Stirlingshire); Coneyhatch (Kincardineshire); Kinnen Hill (West Lothian); Cuninghowes (Edinburgh)The Cunyshill c.1540; Cunninghills 1688; Cuninboigs 1688; Kinningbrae 1698connie n; kinnen n; S1 kinnen n, kunno nconing, conyng n; cuning, cunning n; qwneing n; kinning n
corse, crosscorse, croce, crosOE cros, ON krossna cross; a market cross, a market place, a boundary cross; a cairn, a pile of stones on a hill-topCorseford (Renfrewshire); Corsehill (Kirkcudbrightshire); Corsewall (Wigtownshire); Coarse Hill (Fife); Tollcross (Edinburgh, Glasgow); Corseyard (Kirkcudbrightshire); Crossford (South Lanarkshire); Crossgates (Fife); Corsehope (Midlothian); Corseland (Kirkcudbrightshire)Crossrigeflat c1220; Crosflatte c1320; Hakkerstane crose 1425; Crosdikis 1456corse, cors, kors n; croce n; cross n; S1 cross n; S2 cross ncors, corce, corse n2; croce n1; cros, cross(e n1; croice, crois(e n; crose, croas n
cotcot, coteOE cotna small house, a humble dwelling, a cottage; a sheep-houseSaltcoats (Ayrshire, East Lothian); Cotts of Innes (Morayshire); Cauldcoats (Midlothian); Gatehousecote (Roxburghshire); Lochcote (West Lothian); Banks Cott (Kirkcudbrightshire); Butchercoat (Berwickshire); Coates (Midlothian)Grenhilcotis c1320; Saltcotis 1368; Lochcot(t)is 1471; Coitcroft 1576cot n; S2 cot ncot, cott n3; cote, coit n2See also DOST cotland n and cote-, coit-, coatland, n; and DOST cot-toun n
craigcragGael creag, ME cragna cliff on the sea or mountain-side, a projecting spur of rock; (in plural) rocky ground; sea-rocks, cliffsEastcraigs (Edinburgh); Craigmire (Aberdeenshire); White Craig (Stirlingshire); Williamcraigs (West Lothian); Little Craigs (Ayrshire); Craigend (Angus); Westcraigs (West Lothian); Maw Craig (Aberdeenshire); Craighead (Ayrshire)Krag 1278; Villamis Craigis c.1335; White Cragg 1370; Westecrage of Egilsface 1392craig, crag n1; S1 craig n1; S2 craig n1crag, crage, craig n1
cuningarcuningar, cunnigarOF conninière, ME conyngerna rabbit warrenKinningars Park (West Lothian); Cunningar Wood (Aberdeenshire); The Cuningar (West Lothian); Cunningar (Midlothian)Cunyngare 1491; Cunneger hill 1496; Cunnynger hillis1514; Cunnyngayrland 1543cuningar ncuningar, cunningair n; (cunigar), cunnigare n; conyngar(e n; *cuneinyaird n; kunynʒare nsee also DOST cunnygarth n
dale, deel, daaldale, dailOE dæl, ON dalrna dale, a valleyTeviotdale (Roxburghshire); Lauderdale (Berwickshire); Butterdales (Dumfriesshire); Tweeddale (Roxburghshire); Nithsdale (Dumfriesshire)Teviettedale c1100; Drivesdale 1116; Teuidall c1154; Tvededale 1159; Lawederdale c1200dale n3; deel n; daal, dal(l ndale, dail(l n1
den, deanden, deneOE denuna hollow with sloping sides (often with a rivulet), a narrow (wooded) ravine or valley, a dingleDen Burn (Aberdeenshire); Blakedean (Roxburghshire); Cardenden (Fife); Dean Village (Edinburgh); Denholm (Roxburghshire); Lambden (Berwickshire); Aikendean (Midlothian); Milldeans (Fife); Hassendean (Roxburghshire)Lummesdene c1100; Botheldene 1159; Ellesdene 1218; Strikerden 1275; Denside 1304den n1den n1; dene n1
doocotdowcotME dove + cotna dovecotDovecothall (Berwickshire, Renfrewshire); Doocot (Aberdeenshire); Doo' cot Park (Perth); Doo' cot Hill (Clackmananshire); Dovecot Wood (Aberdeen); Dovecotwell (Dumfriesshire)ducat burne 1592; doucott aiker 1593; dowcat wynde 1660; Dovecot Park 1781doocot n; S2 doocot ndowcot, dowcat 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.)