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 FormEtymologyPoSDefinitionModern ExamplesHistorical EvidenceSND LinkDOST LinkNotes
hirsthirstOE hyrstna (hard or barren) hillock, knoll or ridge; the summit of a rocky hill; a bank of sand, shingle or gravel in a river or harbourBrocklehirst (Dumfriesshire); Brackenhirst (North Lanarkshire); Ferniehirst (Midlothian, Roxburghshire); Sandy Hirst (East Lothian); South Nettlehirst (Ayrshire)de Twa Hullyrhyrstis 1456; Brakanhirst 1475; Farnihirst 1524-25; Fairnyhirst 1599hirst nhirst, hyrst n1
hollinholineOE holegnna holly bushHollandbush (Stirlingshire); Hollinhirst (Dumfriesshire); Hollin Burn (Aberdeenshire); Holland Isle (Kirkcudbrightshire); Hollings (Stirlingshire); Hollen Bush (Wigtownshire)Holenbus 1620; Hollinbusch 1644; Hollings 1742; Hollinheartston 1755hollin nholin(e, holyn(e n
holm (1), howmholmOE holm, ON holmrna stretch of low-lying land beside a river (liable to flooding), a water meadow; a mound, a hollowHomehead (Aberdeenshire); Bearholms (Dumfriesshire); Demainholm (Roxburghshire); Cockholm (Midlothian); Broomholm (Dumfriesshire)Kerlyngholm c1240; Mikylholmesyd c1320; Le holme de Wardmedow 1490; Clydis Holm 1553howm n; S1 howm nholm n; ADDS holm n
hope (1)hopeOE hopna small upland valley or hollow (enclosed at the upper end by green hills or ridges); a sloping hollow between two hills; a hillDryhope (Selkirkshire); Fawhope (Roxburghshire); Harthope Burn (Dumfriesshire); Kershope (Roxburghshire); Soonhope (Berwickshire); Hopefield (Midlothian); Hyndhope (Selkirkshire); Wauchope (Dumfriesshire); Corsehope (Midlothian); Sweethope (Roxburghshire); Blackhope (Midlothain)Berhope c1190; Ruhope c1190; Elrehope c1200; Hollehope 1200-02hope n1; S1 hope n1hope, hoip n2
hungryhungryOE hungriga(of soil) poor, unproductive; a piece of enchanted groundHungry Hill (Dunbartonshire, Fife, West Lothian); Hungryside Bridge (Stirlingshire); Hungry Stone (Kirkcudbrightshire); Hungry Kerse (Stirlingshire)Hungrehill 1566-67; Hungriehill 1628; Hungry Hill 1755; Hungry Kerse 1849hungry adjhungry, houngrye a
hunterhuntarOE huntana huntsman, a hunterHunterland (Midlothian); Hunters Hill (Kirkcudbrightshire); Hunterfield (Midlothian); Hunter Hill (Selkirkshire); Hunterlees (South Lanarkshire)Hunterisford c1220; Ormehunterisland 1359; Hunterhill 1541; Huntarseit 1543; Hunterland 1591hunt vhuntar, hunter n1
inchinch; inshGael innisnan island; a piece of ground rising in the middle of a plain; a low-lying tract of ground on a river bank (sometimes cut off at high tide)Wester Inshes (Inverness); South Inch (Aberdeenshire); The King's Inch (Renfrewshire); Inchwood (Stirlingshire); Little Inch (Fife); Netherinch (Stirlingshire); Heatherinch (Fige)Redinche 1198-9; Stan Inche 13thC; le Kingis Inche 1450; Sanct Serfis ynche 1567; Keyth Inch c1680inch ninch n2; ins(c)h
kamekameOE cambna long, narrow, steep-sided mound or ridge, a hill-ridge; a small peninsula, a narrow isthmusKame of Isbister (Shetland); Kaimflat (Roxburghshire); Kame of Hoy (Orkney); Easter Kame (Shetland); Kaimes (Fife); Kaimhill (Aberdeenshire); Kaim Head (Edinburgh); Kaimend (Roxburghshire); Kame of Riven Noup (Shetland)Camis 1533; Kems 1654; Kaims Hill 1773; Kaimes 1781kame n; S1 kame n; S2 kame nkame n; came n; kem, keme n
killkill, kilneOE cylenena kiln; a kiln-shaped chasm in the rocks (linked to the sea by a tunnel)Kiln Knowe (Kirkcudbrightshire); Kilnhill (Angus, South Lanarkshire); Kiln Rocks (Fife); Kiln Croft (Kirkcudbrightshire); Kill Burn (Midlothian); Kiln Plantation (Kirkcudbrightshire); Kilburns (Fife); Halflawkiln (Midlothian); Kiln Strand (Kirkcudbrightshire)the Kill-croft 1627; Halfflakill 1627; Lilmkiln 1773; Halfla Kill 1839kill n1; S2 kill n1kill n1; kiln(e n; ADDS kiln(e n
kingkingOE cyningna king, the kingKingsknowe (Edinburgh); King's Park (Stirling); Kingsmills (Inverness); Kingslinks (Aberdeen); Kingsbarns (Fife); Kingsmuir (Angus); Kingston Grange (Midlothian)Kingeswell c1200; Kingessete c1200; Kyngeston 1221; Kynggesside a1300; Kynggewell a1300; Kyngestrete c1330king n; S1 king n; S2 king nking n; ADDS king n
kirkkyrkON kirkja, OE kirkena churchNew Kirk (Aberdeenshire); Hobkirk (Roxburghshire); Ladykirk (Berwickshire); Kirk o' Field (Midllothian]; Kirkford (Fife); Kirkmuir (Kirkcudbrightshire)Kyrckeburne c1160; Selekirke 1165-1214; Askirke 1214-49; Kyrkhop a1300kirk n1; S1 kirk n1; S2 kirk n1kirk n; ADDS kirk n
knockknokGael cnocna small hill or hillock, especially one in isolationKnock of Formal (Angus); Knock Hill (Aberdeenshire); Easter Knock (Aberdeenshire); West Knock (Angus); East Knock (Angus)Knokis 1330; Knok 1364; Heslisid Knok 1525; Knokhill 1541knock n3knok, knock n3
know, knoweknow, knollOE cnollna small rounded hill, a hillock or mound (sometimes associated with fairies)Acreknowe (Roxburghshire); Crowdieknowe (Dumfriesshire); Knowe of Grugar (Orkney); Mill Knowe (Argyllshire); Tappetknowe (Stirlingshire); Silver Knowe (Perthshire); Gallows Knowe (West Lothian); Knowe of Steeringlo (Orkney) Knowehead (Aberdeenshire, Angus); Broomknowe (Fife); Knowe of Burgarth (Shetland); Silverknowes (Edinburgh); Dam Knowe (Wigtownshire)Brunecnolh 1165-1249; Knolestruthyr c1350; Lie widderitknow 1599; Clerks Know 1754know n; S1 know n; S2 know nknoll n; know n
kylekyleGael caolna strait or sound; a narrow arm of the sea; a narrow part of a riverKyles of Bute (Argyllshire); Kyle of Lochalsh (Inverness-shire); Kyle of Sutherland (Sutherland); Kyle of Tongue (Sutherland)Kyle of Aran 1549; Kyle de Glenalmond 1624; Kyll of Glenamount 1641; Kyle of Shuna 1730kyle n1kyle, kyll n
lamblamOE lambna lamb, a young sheepLambhill (Glasgow); Lambden (Berwickshire); Lamblair Edge (Roxburghshire); Lamb Island (Perthshire); Lamb Rig (Dumfriesshire); (The) Lamb (Firth of Forth); Lamblair Hill (Roxburghshire); Lamblair Knowe (Dumfriesshire)Lambremore c1160; Lambedene 1214-49; Lambhilles 1666; Lamb-Croft 1667lamb n1lam, lamb(e n
langlangOE langalongLangholm (Dumfriesshire); Langlands (Stirlingshire); Langton (Berwickshire); Langbank (Stirlingshire); Langside (Dumfriesshire, Roxburghshire); Langfauld (Fife); Langhill (Stirlingshire); Langhaugh (Angus)Langelaw c1170; Langelandes c1200; Langeside c1225; Langefelle c1270lang adj; S1 lang adj; S2 lang adjlang adj1; ADDS lang adj1; long adj
liggatliggatOE hlidgeatna self-closing gate, to prevent cattle from strayingLiggat Syke (West Lothian); Whinnieliggate (Kirkcudbrightshire); Liggatt Hill (Wigtownshire); Ludgate Lodge (Edinburgh); Liggat Cheek (Kirkcudbrightshire); Luggate Burn (East Lothian); Fumart Liggat (Kirkcudbrightshire); Doddiesliggat (Dumfriesshire); Red Liggat (Wigtownshire); Stubliggat (Kirkcudbrightshire)lidyate 1170; Lidgai 1540-41; Liggate 1746; Liggat Syke 1890liggat n; S2 liggat nliggat n; lidgait n; lidyate n
linnlinnOE hlynn, Gael linn(e)na waterfall, a cateract; a precipice, ravine, a deep narrow gorge; a pool in a river; a pool below a waterfallLinn o' Dee (Aberdeenshire); Lin Mill (Stirlingshire); Lindean (Selkirkshire); Linn of Muick (Aberdeenshire); Colislinn (Roxburghshire); Lynn (Fife); Bell's Linn (Roxburghshire); Linhouse (Midlothian)Lynden 1153-45; Lynnesden 1228; Clydis Lin 1649; Lintoun Linn 17thC; Corra Linn 1825linn n; S1 linn n; S2 linn nlin, linn(e, lyn(n n
lowplowp, loupON hlaupna leap, a jumping place, a site ascribed to a legendary leap; a shelf in a river bed over which the water cascades or by which fish may ascend by leaping, a waterfallBuck Loup (Wigownshire); Fairy Loup (Dumfriesshire); Downie's Loup (Stirlingshire); Loup of Kilfeddar (Wigtownshire); Loup of Fintry (Stirlingshire); Matty's Loup (Wigtownshire); Berry's Loup (Aberdeenshire); Loups of Penwhirn (Wigtownshire); White Lairds Loup (Wigtownshire)Maiden's loup 1629; Wallace loup 1638; the Loups of Kenny 1795; The Strait-loup 1856lowp n; S2 lowp nlowp, loup n1; lope, loip 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
millmiln, mylneOE mylnna mill, a corn-millMillburn (Inverness); Mill of Gairn (Aberdeenshire); Waulkmill (Morayshire); Kingsmills (Inverness); Milnquarter (Stirlingshire); Loch Mill (West Lothian); Little Mill (Aberdeenshire); Mill Knowe (Argyllshire); Milnthird (Kirkcudbrightshire)mulneburne 1165-1214; Milnehalech c 1200; milnecroft 1227; Le mylne crofte 1428; the mylne of Kynnabir 1467mill n; S1 millnmiln, mill n
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
miremyreON mýrr, ME mirena piece of swampy ground, a bog, a morass; a peat bogCraigmire (Aberdeenshire); Myreside (Angus, East Lothian, Moray); Black Myre (Aberdeenshire); Halymyres (Kincardinechaire); Hartwoodmyres (Selkirkshire); Whitemyres (Aberdeen); Greenmyre (Aberdeenshire); Myreton (Angus)Wytteriggemyre c1200; Falumireside 13thC; Seggymir 1302; Hwytemyr c1320; Red(e)myre 1348; ly Futyis myre 1463mire n1myr(e, mir(e n
mossmosOE mosna marsh, a bog, a tract of soft wet ground; a bog from which peats are dug, a moorland on an estate allocated to the tenants for cutting fuelMosspark (Glasgow); Moss of Cruan (Orkney); Moss of Wester (Caithness); Moss Croft (Aberdeenshire); Red Moss (Caithness); Hallmoss (Aberdeenshire)Mosplat c 1220; Byermos 1219-33; Grenemos c1300-30; Ridhalchis Mowse 1475moss n; S2 moss nmos n
mouthmouth, mowOE mūðana mouth; the mouth, outfall or lower end of a stream, river, estuary, or inland sea; the entrance to a harbourLossiemouth (Morayshire); Grangemouth (Stirlingshire); Powmouth (Angus); Eyemouth (Berwickshire); Burnmouth (Angus, Ayrshire); Fordmouth (Angus)Cramesmude 1097-1107; Brockesmuth 1165-1214; Twedemud 1217-27; Salwildmuthe 1214-49mouth n; S1 mouth n; S2 mouth nmouth n; mow n2

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.)