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
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
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
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
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
holm (2)holmON holmrnan islet, a small (grassy) island (in a loch or off a larger island) often used for pasturageHolm of Grimbister (Orkney); Holm of Rendall (Orkney); Holm of Califf (Shetland); Holms of Vatsland (Shetland); Holm of Cruester (Shetland)Holm a1688; Holms of Spurness 1832; Holm of Huip 1832; Holm of Houss 1887holm n; S1 holm nholm n; ADDS holm nSee also DOST ting 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
hope (2), hoobhopeON hópna small bay or havenSt Margaret's Hope (Fife, Orkney); The Houb (Shetland); Chalmers Hope (Orkney); St Andrews Hope (Fife); Houb of Scatsta (Shetland); Pan Hope (Orkney)Lovnan houp 17thC; St Margaret’s Hope a1688; Kirk-hope a1688; North-hope 1700; Pan Houp 1795hope n2; hoob nhope, houp n5See also SND ob n
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
kirktonkirktounON kirkja, OE kirke + OE tūnna town or village situated by a church, the hamlet in which the parish church of a rural parish is located; a farm adjacent to a churchKirkton of Bourtie (Aberdeenshire); Kirkton (Fife, Midlothian, Roxburghshire); Kirktonbridge Cottages (Aberdeenshire); Kirkton of Cults (Fife); Kirkton of Tough (Aberdeenshire); Kirkton Muir (Kincardineshire); Nether Kirkton (Aberdeenshire); Kirktonhill (Dumfriesshire)Kyrchetune c1145; Kirketun 1206; Kirketun super Stryvelin 1319; kyrktoune 1403kirk n1; S2 kirk n1kirk-, kyrktoun nSee also DOST kirk-clachan 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
lawlawOE hlāwna round or conical hill, often in isolation; an artificial mound or hillock, a grave-mound or barrow; a mound of earth and shingle on the bank of a river on to which salmon nets are drawn to be emptiedSoftlaw (Roxburghshire); Black Law (Ayrshire); Lawhead (Fife); Harelaw (Berwickshire); Box Law (Ayrshire); Lawmuir (Dunbartonshire); Sauchie Law (Selkirkshire); Meikle Law (Midlothian)Raperlau c1150; Wythelawe 1147-52; Grenlaw a1159; Harlauhill c1170; Welpelaw 1222; Qwitlau 1327law n2 law n2; ADDS law n2See also DOST law n3, which may be related
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
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
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
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
loanin, loaningloningME lonyngnAn enclosed track for animals through cultivated or park land; a grassy strip serving as a milking place: a common road or green of this sortGreenloaning (Perthshire); Loaningfoot (Kirkcudbrightshire); Loaninghill (West Lothain); Loaningside (Stirlingshire); Loaninghead (Kirkcudbrightshire)le lonyngdyke 1348; The lonyng of the land of Greneforde 1402; Lie grene lonyng 1565; westirloaning 1641loanin n; S2 loanin nloning nCompare SND loan n1 and DOST lone 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.)