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
peelpeleME pelena defensive palisade or fence of stakes, a stockade, ground enclosed by such; a small fortified or moated rectangular stone towerPeelrig (Berwickshire); Peelbraehope (Roxburghshire); Peelwalls (Berwickshire); Peelnick (Roxburghshire); Pilmuir (Berwickshire, Fife); Peel Hill (Selkirkshire)Pel de Lithcu 14thC; le Pele 1429; peile of Belsyis 1479; the peile of Knokschenoch 1528peel n4pele, peill n1
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
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
shankschankOE scangana downward spur or projection of a hill, a descending ridge which joins a hill summit to the plainShankfoot (Kirkcudbright); Shank (Midlothian); Shankend (Roxburghshire); Shank of Inchgrundle (Angus); Shank Cleugh (Midlothian); Meg's Shank (Dumfriesshire); Shankend Wood (Midlothian)Schanke c1320; Cammo Schaunkis 1507 Bowshank 1593; The Shankfot croft 1690shank ns(c)hank n
middenmiddin, middingON *myki-dyngja, ME myddingna dunghill, a refuse heap; a boggy placeMidden Craig (Kirkcudbrightshire); Black Midden (Aberdeenshire); The Middens (Fife); Carsehope Middens (South Lanarkshire)Blakmiddingis 1508; Mydynnes 1517; Middendub 1781; The Middens 1855 (OS Fife v3)midden n, S1 midden n, S2 midden nmid(d)in(g 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
haininghaningON hegning, ME hainingna fence, hedge or wall forming the boundary of an enclosure; a piece or stretch of ground enclosed in this way (originally to protect a hay crop from cattle)The Haining (Selkirkshire); Haining (Stirlingshire); North Haining Farm (West Lothian); Haining Brae (Edinburgh); Haining Valley (Stirlingshire); Haining Moss (Selkirkshire)le Hayning 1298-99; Hayny[n]gschaw 1348; Hayninghil 1413; Haynyng 1423; haningis of Vrie 1636hain v; S1 hain v; S2 hain vhaining, haning vbl n
fieldfeld, fieldOE feldna fieldEastfield (Glasgow); Linksfield (Aberdeen); Bruntsfield (Edinburgh); Priestfield (Angus); Field of Noss (Caithness); Bellfield Park (Inverness); Hogganfield (Glasgow); Smithfield (Aberdeen)Wytefeld c1200; Lyllochefylde 1293; Westfeld 1294; Prestfeld 1327; Hwytfyld 1333field n; S1 field nfeld(e, feild n; ADDS feld(e nsee also DOST feld(e) land, feild land n
forestforest, forrestOF forestna forest, a large wood; (in law) a large tract of ground, not necessarily wooded, and commonly bare and mountainous, originally reserved for the hunting of deer and, as such, belonging to the CrownEttrick Forest (Selkirkshire); Forest Lodge (Roxburghshire); Forest Muir (Angus); Stonedge Forest (Roxburghshire); Glendoll Forest (Angus); Foresthall (Glasgow); Devilla Forest (Fife); Wauchope Forest (Roxburghshire)A foresto de Seleschirche a1153; Etryke forest 1384; Forrest burne 1648; The forest of Alyth 1724forest nforest, forrest n
quarter, wharterquarterOF quartier, quarterna fourth part (of a territory, sherrifdom, burgh, estate or land)North Quarter (Fife); Millquarter (Kirkcudbrightshire); Forresterquarter (Stirlingshire); South Quarter (Fife); Milnquarter (Stirlingshire); Quarterland (Kirkcudbrightshire); Westquarter (Stirlingshire); Quarter Wood (Peeblesshire)le Quarter 1512; Wol-Quarter 1620; Mayne-Quarter 1620; Wastquarter 1631quarter n; S1 quarter n; S2 quarter n; wharter nquarter, quartar(e nCompare SND corter n and SND S2 corter 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
puddockpaddok, poddokME paddokena frog, a toadPottishaw (West Lothian); Paddockmuir Wood (Perthshire); Paddock Hall (West Lothian); Paddington Sike (Roxburghshire)Poddocford 1272-1316; Paddocford c1300; Padokschaw 1503; Paddowcleucheheid 1569; Paddoklaw 1618; paddock-buttis 1619puddock n; S1 puddock n; S2 puddock npad(d)ok n1; poddo(c)k, puddock n; paddo, padow nCompare DOST pad(e n and pode n
gallow, gallagallowOE galgana gallows, a place of executionGallowgate (Glasgow); Gallatown (Fife); Gallowhill (Aberdeenshire, Ross and Cromarty, Perthshire, West Dunbartonshire, Wigtownshire); Gallowfauld (Angus); Galalaw (Roxburghshire); Gallowdykes (Edinburgh); Gallowhills (Aberdeenshire); Gallows Knowe (West Lothian)Galuraw c1250; Galowhille 1315; Galugat 1317; Gallowmore 1488gallows ngallo(w, galow- n; gallow(i)s, gallous nSee also DOST gallowgate n and gallowhill 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
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
guseguseOE gōsna gooseGoosedubs (Edinburgh, Glasgow); High and Laigh Gooseloan (Ayrshire); Goose Loch (Selkirkshire); Goosecroft Road (Stirling); Goosefauld (Glasgow)Gwis croft 1538; the guis hawch of Kynmynty 1554; Gusdubbis 1563; Goos Dubb 1721guse n; S1 guse n; S2 guse n; geese nguse, guis n1
loanloneOE lanena grassy strip leading to a pasture or open ground, beginning at or near a farm, village or burgh as a green where the cattle were milked; a cattle-track through arable land which links to common grazing; the part of a farm ground which leads to or adjoins the house; a street or roadway, a laneDobbie’s Loan (Glasgow); The Tinks’ Loan (St Andrews); Langloan (North Lanarkshire); Byresloan (Fife); Loan Knowes (Wigtownshire); Blackloanhead (Banffshire); Loanhead (Angus, Fife, Midlothian); Fairloans (Roxburghshire); Loanfoot (Fife); Loanburn (Kirkcudbrightshire)the lone of Alanhauch 1535-36; Brochtoun lon heid 1587; Dalry lone 1591; Carcart lone heid 1664loan n1; S2 loan n1lone n1Compare SND loanin n and DOST loning 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
hive, hythehiveOE hӯðna harbour, a haven, a landing place, an inlet among rocksSteenhive (Kincardineshire); Redhythe (Morayshire); Thornyhive Bay (Kincardineshire); Cowhythe (Morayshire); Broad Hive (Aberdeenshire)Stain-hyve 1600; Salt-coat-hive c1680; Guthrie’s hyth 1723; Thorn-hive 1825hive n; hythe nhive, hyve nCompare SND hine n and DOST havin n1 and hane
hine, havenhane, havinOE hæfenna haven, a (natural) harbourEast Hain (Fife); Buckhine (Fife); Longhaven (Aberdeenshire); Broad Haven (Caithness); Sandhaven (Aberdeenshire); North Haven (Aberdeenshire); West Haven (Aberdeenshire)le Bellehauen 1369; the hayne of Wigtoun 1517; the hewin of Sterling 1598-99; Bucky-hine a1779hine nhavin, hevin, heavin n1; ADDS hane, hayne;Compare SND hive n and hythe n, and DOST (, hyve n
hawkhauk, halkOE hafocna hawkHawkhill (Angus, Ayrshire, Fife); Hawkslaw (Berwickshire); Hawksnest (Roxburghshire); Halk Law (Midlothian); Hawknest Rig (Dumfriesshire); Hagbrae (Midlothian); Hawkshole (Dumfriesshire)Hawkeschaws c1320; Haucsland 1379; Haukheid 1405; Haukhirst 1457hawk nhawk, hauk n; halk n
seatseteON sǽtina high, saddle-shaped and conspicuous hill; a dwelling house, a country seat, a place of habitationArthur's Seat (Edinburgh); Earl's Seat (Stirlingshire); Foresterseat (Morayshire); St Arnold's Seat (Angus); Leven Seat (Midlothian); Mowat's Seat (Angus)Kingesseteburne 1165-90; Pronewessete c1180; Keluesete 1165-1214; Kingessete c1200seat n; S1 seat nDOST sete, seit(e n
hillhill, hyllOE hyllna hill or (low) mountain; a hillock, a mound; a common moor where rough grazing rights are enjoyed jointly by neighbouring farmers; a piece of rough moorland where peats are cut, a peat-mossKaim Hill (Ayrshire); Hill of Gairney (Aberdeenshire); Sighthill (Edinburgh, Glasgow); Kinnen Hill (West Lothian); Hillhead (Glasgow); Hill of the Taing (Shetland); Hillfoot (Dunbartonshire); Hilton (Inverness); Raehills (Dumfriesshire)Herishille a1166; Urilhille c1220; Lamby hill c1220; Buttiris hyll 1552hill n; S1 hill n; S2 hill nhill, hyll n; ADDS hill 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
glenglenGael glenn, gleannna hollow or valley (traversed by a stream or river); a steep narrow-sided valley; the mountain reaches of a mountain valley; a dell, a ravineGlenhead (Stirlingshire); The Great Glen (Inverness-shire); Glenburn (Fife, Renfrewshire); Glens of Foudland (Aberdeenshire); Rouken Glen (Glasgow); The Sma' Glen (Perthshire); The Fairy Glen (Ross and Cromarty)le Glen 1292; the Glen 1502; Glenshott 1656; Glenheid 1662; Glenhead 1665glen nglen 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.)