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
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
weelweilOE wǣlna deep pool in a river or a narrow part of an estuary or the sea; a whirlpoolBloody Wiel (Wigtownshire); Maxwellheugh (Roxburghshire); Reidweil (Kirkcudbrightshire); Cairdie Wiel (Wigtownshire); Scar Weil (Kirkcudbrightshire); Old Weal (Roxburghshire); Cantin Wiel (Wigtownshire)Macch'swel 1159; Sant Katrynis weill 1553; the guidwyffis weill 1586; Craigweill 1593weel n1weil(l, weel(l n
wallwellOE wælla, wiellana natural spring of water which forms a pool or spring; a source of water with medicinal, miraculous or supernatural properties, a holy well; a tide race in the seaNinewells (Dundee); Wellheads (Banffshirre); Craigswalls (Berwickshire); Drywells (Banffshire); Mungo's Walls (Berwickshire); Walton (Fife); St Mungo's Well (Aberdeenshire); Billerwell (Roxburghshire); Black Walls (Fife); Springwells (Banffshire); Blindwells (Angus)Macchuswel 1159; Kalde Welle c1190; Kersewelle 1195; Blynd Wollis 1203-22; Creswel 1214-49; Caldwell 1294wall n; S2 wall nwel(l, wal(l, wol(l 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
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
burnburnOE burnana brook or stream; water (from a fountain or well)Blackburn (West Lothian); Springburn (Glasgow); Netherburn (South Lanarkshire); Burn of Cruan (Orkney); Den Burn (Aberdeenshire); Burnbank (North Lanarkshire); Millburn (Inverness); Burn of Whilk (Caithness); Dryburn (Morayshire); Burnside (Fife); Burnfoot (Wigtownshire)Merburne c1170; Triernburn c1200; Bradestrothirburne c1220; Kyrkeburne 1229; le Burnhedis 1505; Burneside 1548burn n; S1 burn n; S2 burn nburn nSee also SND brin n1
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
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
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
rawrawOE rāwna row of houses, of a uniform design and with common gables; cottages for miners or farm-servants; a street comprising such a line of housesLangraw (Fife, Roxburghshire); Angelrow (Berwickshire); Fisherrow (Midlothian); Dykeraw (Roxburghshire); Rottenrow (Glasgow); Potterrow (Edinburgh); Westraw (South Lanarkshire)Mukeraw c1248; Bagraw 14thC; Kirkraw 1364; Curquhewraw 1375raw n1; S2 raw n1raw, rau(e n; row n3See also DOST Rat(t)o(u)n raw and DOST Routton raw
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
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
biggin, biggingbigging, byggyngME biggingna building, a cottage; a cluster of houses, a hamletNewbigging (Abderdeenshire, Angus, Dumfriesshire, Fife, Kincardineshire, Midlothian, Morayshire, Roxburghshire, South Lanarkshire, West Lothian); Lower Bigging(s) Upper Bigging(s) (Orkney)Newbigginghe 1153; Neubiggyng 1315; Shirrefbyggyng 1374; Neubiging 1569biggin(g), biggen', biggan n2; S2 biggin(g) n2biggin(g, byggyn(g n
bernbern, barnOE berernna barnBarnhill (Glasgow, Inverness) Kingsbarns (Fife); West Barns (East Lothian); Barnhead (Angus); Barnton (Edinburgh); Barn Hills (Wigtownshire); Barns Ness (East Lothian); Barns of Craig (Angus)Northbernis 1328; Suthbarne 1373; Berntoun 1390-1406; le Barnis 1490; bornestede 1560S1 bern n2; S2 bern n2bern n1; barn, barne n; ADDS barn n; born(e 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
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
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
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
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
brig, briggbrigOE brycg, ON bryggjana bridge; a reef, a long low ridge of sea-rocks; a large flat stone, a flagstoneBlackbriggs (Ayrshire, Kirkcudbrightshire); Birgham (Berwickshire); Gorebridge (Edinburgh); The Brig o Ballater; (Abderdeenshire); Brighouse (Kirkcudbrightshire); Brig o' Doon (Ayrshire); Fisherbriggs (Aberdeenshire); Briggait (Glasgow); Brigstanes (Kincardineshire); Stonebriggs (Aberdeenshire)Prestesbrige c1150; Hatherbrig c1190; Risibrigg c1240; Briggate c1266; Brighous 1337; Bryghend 1359brig n1; S1 brig n1; S2 brig n1brig, bryg 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.)