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 Form Older Scots FormEtymologyPoSDefinitionModern ExamplesHistorical EvidenceSND LinkDOST LinkNotes
thornthorneOE þorn, ON þornna thorn tree or bush, a hedge of thorn bushesThornholme (South Lanarkshire); Thornhill (Aberdeen); Thornton (Fife, Midlothian); Nenthorn (Berwickshire); Hawthorn (Selkirkshire); Thornbank (Fife); Thornloan (Stirlingshire); Thorn Isle (Argyllshire)Hardingesthorn 1133-47; Neithanesthyrn 1159; Thornton c1230; Thorneburht 1214-49; Thornedich c1250; Thornle 1403thorn n1thorn(e n
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
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
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
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
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
tailtailna tail; a long, narrow strip of ground, generally adjoining and stretching backwards from the site or garden of a house or croft; a small division of land attached to a larger division like a tail; the lower end or hindmost part of a piece of land or watercourse; the tail-race of a mill; the end of a sandbankMilltail (Fife); Tails of Stow (Orkney); Tail of the Skerry (Orkney)Thailbog 1219-33; the taill of Quoybankis 1578; the taills of Auld Aberden 1608; the Tail End 1611; the tail of the bank 1822tail n; S2 tail ntail, tale n
tafttoftON topt, OE toftna homestead (and the attached land), the site of a house or buildingsTaft (Orkney); Easter Tofts (South Lanarkshire); Upper Tofts (Roxburghshire); Tofthill Plantation (Fife); Edgerston Tofts (Roxburghshire); Greentoft (Orkney); Lower Toft (Roxburghshire)Eghetofft 1214-49; Braytoftis 1248-9; Godemannistoft c.1235; Toftes 1296; Tofts 1622taft ntoft n1See also DOST Tofting, Thoftyn, n
sykesikeOE sīc, ON síkna small stream; a ditch or channel containing a stream or rivulet; a marshy hollow (through which a stream flows), a cleft in the groundSikeside (North Lanarkshire); Colliesyke (West Lothian); Sauchy Sike (Dumfriesshire); Threepsikes (Fife); Adie's Syke (Midlothian); Liggat Syke (West Lothian); Whitesykes (Midlothian); Allery Sike (Dumfriesshire)Blindsyke a1398; modirsyke 1457; Foulsyik 1571; Murroksyke 1579; Fouladge syke 1665; the syke called Coallyears boignesyke 1683syke n; S2 syke nsike, syk(e nSee also DOST (siket) syketh, sichet, sychet n
swireswyreOE swīra, ON svírina hollow or declivity between hills (through which a road runs); a hollow or level place near the top of a hill; a neck (of land)Redeswire Fray (Roxburghshire); Roughsware (Midlothian); Swyre (Dumfriesshire); Sware Brae (Kirkcudbrightshire); Swire Knowe (Roxburghshire); Dewar Swire (Midlothian); Sware Burn (Dumfriesshire); Sware Head (Kirkcudbrightshire); Sware Knowe (Dumfriesshire); Swire Syke (Roxburghshire); Ludsgill Sware (Dumfriesshire)Hethouswyre 1214-49; Buchswyre 1327; Reid Swyre 1575; Hardhaugh swire c1800swire nswire, swyr(e n
swineswyneOE swīnna pig, pigsSwinewaird (Kincardineshire); Swinewood (Berwickshire); Swineside Hall (Roxburghshire); Swineford (Midlothian); Soonhope (Berwickshire); Swine's Cleugh (Midlothian); Swinedrum (Kirkcudbrightshire); Swine Fell (Wigtownshire)swhynhope c1200; Swineshales 1230; Swineford 1258; Swynschawis 1265swine nswine, swyn(e n
strathstrathGael srathna wide river valley, a stretch of relatively flat, fertile land bounded by hillsWester Strath (West Lothian); Strath of Kildonan (Sutherland); Strath Mill (West Lothian); Strath of Menteith (Perthshire); Strathloanhead (West Lothian)La Strath de Ogilface 1386; the Strath of Menteth 1507-8; Easter Strayth 1588; Strath-loan 1682; Straith(h)ill 1698strath n, S2 strath nstrath(e, straith(e n
stoddert, strothersrotherOE *strōðer, ME strotherna marshy placeStockstrother (Roxburghshire); Bellstruther (Berwickshire); Yellowstruther (Midlothian); Williestrother Loch (Roxburghshire); Westruther (Berwickshire); Strutherhill (South Lanarkshire)Harastrodar a1159; Kyrnestroder c1160; Strotherflat 13thC; Westsrother c1300stoddert nstrother nDodgy?
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
starstarON stǫrrna species of grass or sedge (growing on moorish or boggy ground); land covered in sedgesStarlaw (West Lothian); Starcleuch Edge (Roxburghshire); Star Wood (East Lothian); Star Burn (South Lanarkshire); Starhill (Banffshire)star of Kelle 1471; (le) Starlaw 1468 the stare myr 1549; Sterlaw 1618star n2star(e n3
stankstankOF estancna pool, a pond, a fish pond (on an estate); the area of ground around a pond; a small semi-stagnant (overgrown) sheet of water, a stretch of slow-moving water, a sluggish stream; a ditch, an open watercourse; a gutter, a drainage channelBlack Stank (Wigtownshire); Stankards (West Lothian); Fivestanks (West Lothian); Gowan Stank (West Lothian)Castilstank 13thC; Hawedenstank 1397; Houden Stank 1398; Stank of Fowles 1590stank n1; S2 stank n1stank n1
staniestanyOE stānigaabundant in stones; characterised by stone or stonesStaney Hill (Roxburghshire); Stoneywood (Stirlingshire); Stanygill (Roxburghshire); Stoneyhill Wood (Aberdeen); Stoneyport (Midlothian); Stonyford (Angus); Stoneyflat (Midlothian); Stonywynd (Fife); Stoneyhill (Midlothian)Staniford 1165-82; Stanyacre c1250; Stanyburne 1597; Stanie Mailing 1660 (1663)stane n; stane S2stany adj
stanestaneOE stān, ON steinnna stone; a rock, a boundary stone, a landmark, a stone used as a meeting placeThirlestane (Berwickshire, Selkirkshire); Harestanes (Dunbartonshire, Fife, Roxburghshire); Stanerig (Stirlingshire); Shoestanes (Midlothian); Stenton (Fife); Brigstanes (Kincardineshire); Stenhouse (Dumfriesshire, Edinburgh, Fife); Brotherstone (Berwickshire, Midlothian)Staincros 1165-1214; Steinreise bech 1194-1214; Stanhus 1214-49; Thirlestan c1260; Stenhyve 1607; Steanhous 1666stane n; S1 stane n; S2 stane n; stone n1stan(e 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
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
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
soutersoutarOE sūterena shoemaker, a cobblerThe Sutors (Ross and Cromarty); Souterhill (Aberdeenshire); Souterhouse (North Lanarkshire); Souterland (Midlothian); Sutor Stacks (Ross and Cromarty); Souterford (Aberdeenshire)swtercrophtdyk a1325; Sutergate 1337; Sowttergait 1563; Soutarland 1696; The Cromarty Sutors 1854souter n; S2 souter nsoutar 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
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
slapslopMiddle Dutch slopna gap, breach or hole (in a wall), an entrance or exit, an opening; a narrow lane running between houses; a pass or shallow valley between hills; a gateSlap of Quoybeezie (Orkney); Waterslap (Stirlingshire); Slap of Faravill (Orkney); Coldstone Slap (Midlothian); Kirkslap (Stirlingshire); Slap of Warth (Orkney); Mote Slap (Wigtownshire); Slap of Grindela (Orkney)Liggʒet Slappe 1561; Claysclope 1635; Barkerland slop 1707; Coldstaine Slap 1715slap n2; S2 slap n2slop, slap n1

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.)