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
edgeegeOE ecgnan edge; the crest of a sharp ridgeWindy Edge (Fife, West Lothian); Edgeface (Stirlingshire); Muiredge (Fife); Edgefield (Midlothian); Lamblair Edge (Roxburghshire); Edgefauld Road (Glasgow); Cairn Edge (Midlothian)Soltray ege 1455; Windiaige 1596; Eadestoun eadge 1603; Edgeberry 1773edge nege, egge n
fairniefarnyOE fearnigafernyFairnieside (Berwickshire); Ferniebrae (Aberdeenshire, Kincardineshire); Fairnielee (Selkirkshire); Ferniehill (Edinburgh); Ferniehirst (Midlothian, Roxburghshire); Ferniegair (South Lanarkshire); Fernieflatt (Kincardineshire); Fernyrig (Berwickshire); Fernie Grain (Midlothian)Farniacres 13thC; Farenyacredene c1320; Farnydoune 1372; Farnyle 1456fern nfarny a
fellfellON fjallna (rocky) hill, a mountain; a tract of hill-moorCampsie Fells (Stirlingshire); Long Fell (Kirkcudbrightshire); Fellcleugh (Berwickshire); Round Fell (Kirkcudbrightshire); Dodd Fell (Roxburghshire); Fell Hill (Wigtownshire); Dryden Fell (Roxburghshire); Abbey Fell (Kirkcudbrightshire); Fellend (Dumfriesshire); Fell of Fleet (Kirkcudbrightshire); Capell Fell (Dumfriesshire); Thorter Fell (Kirkcudbrightshire)Erniltoun fell 1654; Ellemsyde of Felcleuch 1665; Campsie Fells 1795; Fell of Fleet 1832fell n2 fell n1
flush, flashflosche, fluschOE *flæsc, ON flaskna piece of boggy ground (where the water frequently lies on the surface), a swampy place, a pool of water in a fieldFlush Hill (Wigtownshire); Flosh (Dumfriesshire); Flass (Berwickshire, Fife); The Flashes (Midlothian); Floshend Loch (Dumfriesshire); Flesh Glen (Fife); The Floss (Selkirkshire); Foulflush (Wigtownshire); Flass Well (Berwickshire); Isle of Flosh (Dumfriesshire); Flesh Cleugh (Midlothian); Flask Wood (Dumfriesshire); Flosh Burn (Roxburghshire); Floshknowe (Dumfriesshire)Flas 1388-89; Flashill 1531; Flasche 1550-51; The Flass 1569; Floshe 1569; Flask 1653; Flass 1654; Flash 1808flush n; flash n1flosche n; flusch, fluche n, flus, flous, 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
gillgilON gilna narrow valley with steep, rocky sides; a ravine, a gullyRaegill (Dumfriesshire); Stanygill (Roxburghshire); Haregills (Dumfriesshire); Bowman's Gill (Midlothian); Howgill (Dumfriesshire)Rauengille a1238; Smalgyllis 1373; Cowsowgill 1481-82; Hairgills 1637gill n2; S1 gill n2; S2 gill n2gil(l, gyll n1
gledgledOE glidanthe common kite; a hawkGladswood (Berwickshire); Gledsnest (Roxburghshire); Gladhouse (Midlothian); Gledehills (Fife); Gled Hill (West Lothian); Gladsmoor (Wigtownshire); Glede Knowe (Midlothian); Gladgate (Fife); Glede Bog (Kirkcudbrightshire)Gledehus 1140-53; Gleddiswod c1200; Gledstanes c1354; Gledhous 1563gled n1gled 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
graingrainON greinnthe branch or fork of a stream or river, an arm of the sea; a branch of a valley, a tributary valley; the branch of a treeCrooked Grain (Aberdeenshire); Grains of Fetteresso (Kincardineshire); Black Grain (Selkirkshire); Grains of Tanar (Abderdeenshire); Haregrain (Roxburghshire); East Grain (Aberdeenshire); Grains (Dumfriesshire); The Grains (Abderdeenshire); Fernie Grain (Midlothian); Burngrains (Dumfriesshire); Wolf Grain (Aberdeenshire); Tod Grain (Dumfriesshire); Burn Grains (Kirkcudbrightshire)Blakgrane 1456; Fauhopgranys 1456; Blakgrane 1510; Graines 1635grain n2grain(e, grane n2
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
greengreneOE grēneagrassy, green-coloured; covered in grass or greeneryGreenlaw (Angus, Berwickshire, Midlothian); Greenhill (Sutherland); Greenwood (Berwickshire); Greenside (Midlothian); Green Nap (Fife); Greenhead (Roxburghshire); Green Shields (Stirlingshire)Grenlaw a1159; Grenerig c1220; Grenesyd(e) 1256-59; Greneheved 1296; Grenhil(cotis) 1317; Grenelaw 1492green adj; S1 green adj; S2 green adjgrene, grein a
greengreneOE grēnengrassy ground, a grassy place; an open piece of grassy ground (in the grounds of a manor or castle); a town or village greenGlasgow Green (Glasgow); Parson's Green (Edinburgh); Magdalen Green (Dundee); Gunsgreen (Berwickshire); Greens of Gardyne (Angus); Schilgreen (Roxburghshire); Gretna Green (Dumfriesshire); Blairsgreen (Fife)Schelgrene c1320; Wodgrenystoun 1359; Gownisgrein 1580; Smiddiegrein 1652green n; S1 green n; S2 green ngrene, grein 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
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
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
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
haughhauch, halchOE halhna piece of level alluvial ground on the banks of a river, river- meadow landCarterhaugh (Angus); Haughend (Perthshire); The Spittal Haugh (Aberdeenshire); Rosehaugh (Morayshire, Ross and Cromarty); Haugh of Ballechin (Perthshire); The Haugh (Inverness); Haughhead (South Lanarkshire)le Haulch 1373; le Quenys Hauche 1457; the halch of Tannadys 1494; Hervis Haucht 1546; Barhaugh 1596haugh n; S1 haugh n; S2 haugh nhauch n1; ADDS hauch n1; halch n
hause, hasshalsOE hals, ON halsna neck; a defile, a narrow passage between hills, the head of a pass; a narrow neck of water; a narrow connecting ridge between two heights on a watershed’Packman's Hass (Peeblesshire); Broomhass (Kirkcudbrightshire); Hass o' Ramna Geo (Orkney); Watchy Hass (Dumfriesshire); Peat Hass (Kirkcudbrightshire); The Hawse (Edinburgh); Mennock Hass (Dumfriesshire); Dub of Hass (Kirkcudbrightshire); West Hass (Orkney); Hass (Kirkcudbrightshire); Guile Hass (Dumfriesshire); Hause Burn (Kirkcudbrightshire)Cairn-brae-hawse 1822; Hankhass 1832; The Hawse 1852; Broomhass 1852; Mennock-hass 1874hause n; S2 hause nhals n; ADDS hals 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
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
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
hillockhillokME hillocna mound, a small hillTodhillock (Aberdeenshire); Doghillock (Stirlingshire); Smithyhillock (Aberdeenshire); Cutty Hillock (Fife); Peat Hillock (Aberdeenshire); Burnthillock (Aberdeenshire); Roundhillock (Aberdeenshire)Lammyrhillok 1499; Gallow hillok 1594; Hillok 1600; Sleipie Hillok 1628hill nhillok n; ADDS hillok 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
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

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.)