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 Evidence SND LinkDOST LinkNotes
rig, riggrygON hryggr, OE hrycgna ridge of high ground, a long narrow hill, a hill-crest; a strip of ploughed land (raised in the middle and sloping towards the sides), a measure of land; a strip of land leased for building in a Scottish burgh (usually with a narrow street frontage and a considerable extension backwards); a chain of hills, rocks or islandsBroomrigg (Dumfriesshire); Rigghouse (West Lothian); Rigghead (Dumfriesshire); Oatrigg (West Lothian)Gret rigesmedue c1170; Todholerig 1165-82; Mosiburnerig 1195-96; Burnerig 1165-1214rig n1; S1 rig n1; S2 rig n1rig, ryg(g n
great, gretgret, greteOE grēatagreatGreatmoor (Roxburghshire); Great Knock (Peeblesshire); Great Brow (Dumfriesshire); Great Law (Midlothian); Great Hill (Peeblesshire)Gretrigesmedue c1170; Gretryg c1214; Gretlau a1300; Grittmoore 1654great adj; S2 great adjgret, grett a; grete, greit a
meedowmedowOE mǣdwena meadow, (marshy) grassland which is mown for use as hayMeadowfield (Edinburgh); Greenmeadow (Shetland); Meadowgreens (Stirlingshire); Broadmeadows (Selkirkshire); Meadowbank (Edinburgh); Fostermeadow (Dumfriesshire); Meadowhead (Fife); The Meadows (Edinburgh)Gretrigesmedue c1170; Meduflat a1200; Brademedue 1200-02; Hollemedu a1250; medowschott of Restalrig 1579; The Medowburne 1632meedow nmedow nSee also DOST medow-skift n and medow-ward 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
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
haliehalyOE hāligaholyHolyrood (Edinburgh); Hallidean (Roxburghshire); Holywood (Dumfriesshire); Holywell (Aberdeenshire)Haliwelburn a1230; Halistane 1329; Halywell 1398; Helliman Rig 1881halie adj; S2 halie adjhaly a; holy, holly a
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?
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
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
hairhare, horeOE hārahoary, grey or white (with age); covered with mould or rime; (of a stone) marking a boundaryHarestanes (Dunbartonshire); Harcarse (Berwickshire); Haregills (Dumfriesshire); Harelawhill (West Lothian); Harestanes Heights (Dumfriesshire)Hares(ch)awes a1240; Harestan c1320; Hairstaines 1673; Harestone 1753hair adjhare, hair a; hore, hoir a
shawschawOE sceaga, scaga, ON skagina small (natural) wood, a copse, a thicket, a grove; a bank of narrow ground at the top which broadens out towards the footPollokshaws (Glasgow); Shawhead (North Lanarkshire); Shaw Brae (Kirkcudbrightshire); Kirkshaws (North Lanarkshire); Shaw Hill (Wigtownshire); Shaw Fell (Kirkcudbrightshire)Haresawes a1240; Crennescawe 1214-49; Swynschawis 1265; Langesawe 1294; Hawkeschaws 1315-21shaw n2s(c)haw n1
heatherhether, hedder, hather, hadderME hathirnheatherHedderwick (Angus, East Lothian); Heatherinch (Fife); Heatherbriggs (Aberdeenshire); Heatherstacks (Angus); Heatherwick (Fife); Heathercroft (Sutherland)Hatheruuich 1094; Hathyr brig a1300; Hatherwik 1509 Hetheruik 1654heather n; S1 heather n; S2 heather nhether, heather n; ADDS hether n, heather n; hed(d)er, heddir n; had(d)ir, had(d)er n; hather, hathir 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
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
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 (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
puilpuleOE pōl, OE pyllna pool, a pond, a small expanse of standing water; a pool in a river; (in Shetland) a small marsh, a patch of swampy groundCockpool (Dumfriesshire); Boretree Pool (Kirkcudbrightshire); Piperpool (Fife); Alder Pool (Kirkcudbrightshire); Stirkpool (Dumfriesshire); Washing Pool (Kirkcudbrightshire)Hum Pulles 1198-1214; Blakepol c1190; le Pulle 1359; Sloypule 1456; the pwll of Monboy 1458; Foull Poull 1557-78puil n; S2 puil npule, puil(l n
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
sand, saunsandOE sandnsand, sandy ground, the sea-shore, a beachSandend (Banffshire); Sandhead (Wigtownshire); Seton Sands (East Lothian); Sandgreen (Kirkcudbrightshire); Sands of Luce (Wigtownshire); Sand Brae (Aberdeenshire); Silver Sands (Morayshire); Sand Mill (Wigtownshire); Sands (Fife)Joymersandes c1240; Burch-in-the-sand la14thC; Sand halch 1435; Sandfurde 1449; the sandis of Mussilburghe 1561; sandhalff c1616sand n; S2 sand nsand n
cauld, cowldcaldOE caldacoldCaldside (Berwickshire); Cauldcots (Angus); Caulhame (West Lothian); Cauldcoats (Midlothian, Renfrewshire); Cauldside (Dumfriesshire, East Lothian); Coldstream (Berwickshire); Cauldshiel (East Lothian)Kalde welle c1190; Kaldestrem c 1200; Caldelaue 1218; Caldclogh 1363cauld adj; S1 cauld adj; S2 cauld adj; cowld adj; S2 cowld adjcald, cauld a
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
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
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

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.)