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 Form EtymologyPoSDefinitionModern ExamplesHistorical EvidenceSND LinkDOST LinkNotes
muirmureOE mōrnbarren open country, uncultivated heathery land considered part of an estate; a tract or expanse of heath; a peat moor; a tract of unenclosed common land held by a town or village; a market greenMuirhouse (Edinburgh); Nethermuir (Ayrshire); Muircroft (Argyllshire); Lammermuir (Berwickshire); Muiredge (Fife); Haughmuir (Angus); Clynelish Muir (Sutherland); Skaithmuir (Berwickshire); Muirhead (Fife)Morthuweit a1153; Inter Lambremor et Tay 1153; De mora de Edenham 1160; Pilemor c1170muir n, S2 muir nmure, muir, mor(e, moir nSee also DOST mur(e)-, muirland 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
nessnesON nes, OE næs(s)na promontory or headlandNess of Clousta (Shetland); Ness of Quoys (Caithness); Kirkness (Fife); Blackness (Dundee); Ness of Culsetter (Shetland); Bo'Ness (West Lothian); Ness of Burravoe (Shetland); Bridgeness (West Lothian); Scurdie Ness (Angus)le nesse 1150; le Nys 1292; Blaknis 1330; Blacnes 1330ness n; S2 ness nnes, nesse n
nethernether, nedderOE neoþerraalower, under; the lower-sited of two places (of the same name)Netherglen (Morayshire); Nethergate (Dundee); Netherburn (South Lanarkshire); Nether Pitcastle (Perthshire); Netherthird (Kirkcudbright); Netherton of Pittendrum (Aberdeenshire); Netherbyre (Morayshire); Netherwood (Dunbartonshire)Nethirmerkhill 1363; Nethir Lebertoun 1387; Nethirkirkgate 1407; Nedyr Kyrk gate 1453; Neddirardis 1458; Nedder Pollok 1494-5nether adjnether, nather a1; ned(d)er a
neuknewk, nukeME nokena corner, a nook, a projecting corner of land; a small (triangular) piece of land; a projecting point of land, a headland or promontory; a street corner; a remote or outlying place; the angle of a stream, an inletCraigneuk (North Lanarkshire); East Neuk of Fife (Fife); Woodneuk (Renfrewshire); Millersneuk (Dunbartonshire); Bare Neuk (West Lothian); Dykeneuk Moss (Ayrshire); Millstone Neuk (East Lothian); Mossneuk (North Lanarkshire)the Nuke 1607; the catchpeull newik 1614; the walneuk of Paislaye 1620; the east nook of Fife 1676neuk n; S2 neuk nneuk, newk n; nuk(e, nuik, nok n
northnorthOE norþasituated in the north, northerlyNorthfaulds (South Lanarkshire); North Haven (Aberdeenshire); North Berwick (Berwickshire); North Queensferry (Fife); North Shiel (West Lothian); North Mains (Angus); Norton (Midlothian); North Kessock (Ross and Cromarty); North Grain (Angus)Northberwic c1211; Northflat 13thC; Northlandis 1306; Northbarnis 1328; Norbernys 1358; Northgat 1400north adj; S2 north adjnorth adj
orchard, wortchatorchatOE ortgeardnan enclosure for the cultivation of fruit-treesOrchardton (Kirkcudbrightshire); Orchardfield (Fife); Orchardhead (Stirlingshire); Lugton Orchard (Midlothian); Orchard (Roxburghshire, Dumfriesshire); Orchard Rig (Peeblesshire)Orchidiardstrother c1320; Orchardcroft 1451; Orchardfelde 1470; the orchet of Carslo 1498-99; Orchartfeild 1522; Boyellis hortchet 1571; Oarchyeardtoune 1694wortchat norchard n; orchat n
otter, witterotterOE oternan otterOtter Isle (Kirkcudbrightshire); Otter Burn (Midlothian, Roxburghshire); Otter Strand (Kirkcudbrightshire); Otters Pool (Orkney); Otter Ayre (Shetland)Otyrburn a1300; Otirburne 1373; Otterburne 1593; Oatters Pool 1765otter n; witter n4otter n, notyr n
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
pappap?ON *pap, ME papna breast, a nipple, one of a group of two or more conical hillsThe Paps of Jura (Argyllshire); Maidens Paps (Dunbartonshire); Meikle Pap (Aberdeenshire); The Little Pap (Aberdeenshire); Maidenpap (Kirkcudbright); The Pap (Aberdeenshire); Peter's Paps (Wigtownshire)Madynpap 1459; The Paiplaw a1578; the thre Papes of Ida 1632; the Paps of Jurah 1703pap n1pap, pape n1
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
peatpete?Celtic *pett, OIr pitnpeatPeat Burn (Kirkcudbrightshire); Peathill (Fife); Peatrig Hill (Midlothian); Peatrig (Kirkcudbrightshire); Peat Inn (Fife); Peat Knowes (Kirkcudbrightshire); Peat Law (Midlothian); Peat Hass (Kirkcudbrightshire)petemyre (of Dontarvy) 1431; Peitrig 1535; Peithill Knoll 1549-50; Peithill Syik 1549-50; Peitaker 1562-62peat n1; S2 peat n1pete, peit n1
patterpottarOE potterena potter, a maker or vendor of potsPotter Row (Edinburgh); Potterhill (Ayrshire); Potterton (Aberdeenshire); Potterland (Kirkcudbrightshire); Potterston (Ayrshire)Pottermedow 1333; Pottartoune 1457; Pottarraw 1561; Potter raw a1568pot npottar n
powpow, pollGael poll, OE pōlna slow-moving, ditch-like stream, flowing through carseland; a (shallow) pool of water, a marshy place; a sea-pool in the rocks; a creek or inlet; a marshy fieldPowmouth (Angus); Pow Burn (Edinburgh); Powfoot (Dumfriesshire); Powside (Stirlingshire); The Cra' Pow (Orkney); Powflats (West Lothian)pow mylne of Dalkeith 1481; powis of Arth 1512; Powlandis 1540; powburne 1563pow n2poll, pow n1
priestprestOE prēostna priest, a clergyman of the Roman Catholic churchPriesthill (Glasgow); Prestwick (Ayrshire); Prieston (Roxburghshire); Priestfield (Angus); Priest's Well (Aberdeenshire); Priestside (Dumfriesshire); Preston (Kirkcudbrightshire, Midlothian); Priestlands (Kirkcudbrightshire); Priest's Knowe (Aberdeenshire)Prestbrige 1153-61; Preston 1165-1214; Prestmunethburne 1214-49; Prestfeld 1327priest n, S1 priest nprest(e 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
pikepykeOE pīc, ON píkna sharp pointed hill; a pointed pile of stones, a cairn; a pointed tip, a tapering horn-like projectionUnthank Pikes (Roxburghshire); Pikeham (Midlothian); Pike Hole (West Lothian); Pike Fell (Roxburghshire); Pikestone Rig (Selkirkshire)Pike 1785; Pyke 1801; Pike Fell 1832; Rone Fell 1832pike npik(e, pyk(e n1
quarrelquarrell, correll? Latin quarreliana stone quarryQuarrelhead (North Lanarkshire); Quarrelwood (Dumfriesshire, Morayshire); Quarrel End (Kirkcudbrightshire); Quarrel Hill (Ayrshire); Quarrel Burn (Midlothian); Quarrel Knowe (Kirkcudbrightshire); Coral Glen (Ayrshire)Quarelgate 1337; Quarelwode 1369; Querrellwod 1496; Quarrel Howe 1794; Corral Glen 1885quarrel n1quar(r)el(l, quer(r)el(l n2; corrall; correll; quarrew, quarroue
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
queen, wheenqueneOE cwēnna queen, the queenSouth Queensferry (West Lothian); North Queensferry (Fife); Queen's Park (Glasgow); Queenshaugh (Stirling); Queen's Seat (Fife)Qwenys-ferry c1420; le quenys Hauche 1457; Quenis fery1480; Queen's Seat 1773queen n; S2 queen n; wheen n2quen(e, quein n1
whamquhawmeON hvammrna dale or valley, a broad hollow among hills (with a stream), a little glen; a hollow piece of ground (in a field), a depressionThe Whaum (St Andrews); Wham Park (Stirlingshire); Whoam Park (West Lothian); Whoam Quarry (West Lothian)Quhawmes 1594; wester quhawme 1635; Whalmfoot 1635-6; Sandy Wham 1773wham n1quhawme n
whin, funquhinON *hvin, ME whinnthe common gorse or furzeWhins of Milton (Stirlingshire); Whin Park (Inverness, Stirlingshire); Whinhill Park (Edinburgh); Whinrig Hill (Berwickshire); Whinrigg (North Lanarkshire); Whins (Fife); Whinbush (Aberdeenshire)Quhins 1629; Whin 1755; Whins 1773; Figgate Whins 1893whin n2; fun n1quhin, quhine, whin n1
white, fitequhiteOE hwītawhite; (of arable land) fallow, unploughed; (of hill land) covered with bent grass rather than bracken or heatherWhitelinks (Aberdeenshire); Whiteinch (Glasgow); Whitebaulks (West Lothian); Whitehill (Glasgow, Wigtownshire); Whitekirk (East Lothian); Whitehill (Argyllshire); Whitefaulds (Ayrshire); White Craig (Stirlingshire)Wythelawe1147-52; Vithemer c1150; Witehou c1165; Whiteslade 1165-85; Whiteshopes c1200white adj; S1 white adj; S2 white adj; fite adj; S1 fite adjwhit(e, whyt adj; quhite adj; fyte a
quoyquyON kvína piece of land (originally part of the common pasture) which had been enclosed and cultivated as part of a farm’Quoy Sinclair (Orkney); Quoys of Reiss (Caithness); Mossquoy (Orkney); Quoy Park (Orkney); Quoyhenry (Orkney)Sanct Margarettis quoy 1591; quoygrahame 1634; St Katharein's quoyes 1706; Castle quoy 1766quoy n; S1 quoy nquoy n2; quy, qui n2See also DOST quyland n and quoyland n
rae, rayra, roOE rānthe roe deerRaehills (Dumfriesshire); Raeshaw (Midlothian); Raeburn (Dumfriesshire); Rawburn (Berwickshire); Roebuck's Seat (Perthshire); Raegill (Dumfriesshire)Rasawe 1208; Le Raahill 1456; Raa loch 1510-11; Reyschaw 1627rae n1ra, ray n1; ro, roe 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.)