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 Form Older Scots FormEtymologyPoSDefinitionModern 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
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
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
heuch, heughheuchOE hōhna crag or precipice, a cliff or steep bank (overhanging a river or the sea); a glen or ravine with steep overhanging sides; (the shaft of) a pit or mine; (the steep face of) a quarryMillheugh (South Lanarkshire); Underheugh (Renfrewshire); Redheugh (Ayrshire, Roxburghshire); Ravensheugh Sands (East Lothian); Slateheugh (Midlothian); Earnsheugh (Aberdeenshire); Slack Heugh (Kirkcudbrightshire); Fastheugh (Selkirkshire); Clachan Heughs (Wigtownshire); Coalheugh Well (Ross and Cromarty); Redheughs (Midlothian); Heugh Farm (East Lothian); Port Mona Heughs (Wigtownshire)Redhuche 1388; Reidhewis 1390-1406; Reidheuchis 1528; Carisheughe 1590heuch nheuch, hewch n; huycheSee also DOST col(e-heuch n
heidhede, hevidOE hēafodnthe head; the top or principal extremity; the summit or upper part of a hill or rising ground; the upper end of a town, street or passage, the end next to the main street; the head of a river or valley; a headland, cape or promontory; a jetty or pier at the entrance to a harbour’Hillhead (Glasgow); Kinnaird Head (Aberdeenshire); Townhead (Glasgow); Causewayhead (Stirling); Peterhead (Aberdeenshire); Pathhead (Midlothian); St Abb's Head (Berwickshire); Knowehead (Angus); Cleuchheads (Dumfriesshire); Deanhead (Fife); Greenhead (Roxburghshire); Hazelhead (Aberdeen)Akin-hede 1260; Hertishede a1300; the hevid of Dedryg 1431; Sancte Albis Hede 1461; Petyrheid 1544; Kynardis heid 1570heid n; S1 heid n; S2 heid nhede, heid n1; ADDS hede n1; hevid, heved n; ADDS hevid n1' hade, haed n; haid nSee also DOST toun heid 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
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
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
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
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
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
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
hahallOE heall, hallna large and spacious building, the residence of a magnate; a farm-house (occupied by the farmer himself rather than the cottars)Sandyha (Orkney); Temple Hall (Berwickshire); Gallowha (Orkney); Clatterha (Angus); Thornyhaw (Fife); Redhall (Dumfriesshire, Midlothian); Cradlehall (Inverness); Hallyards (Midlothian)Blachall 1329; Halton 1345-50; Tempilishalle 1367; Haw off Lythquow 1489ha n; S1 ha n; S2 ha nhall, haw n; ADDS hall nSee also DOST hal(l)is n and halis, hailis n1
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
geogeoON gjána creek or inlet of the sea with steep rocky sides, a cleft with deep water among rocks; a ravineGeo of the Ward (Shetland); Peat Geo (Orkney); Millburn Geo (Shetland); Geo of Dykesend (Orkney); Geo of Sclaites (Caithness); Geo of Pass (Orkney); Geo of Markamouth (Shetland)the geo of Nes 1617; the gew callit Howelay 1636; the Wolf's geo 1795; Mill-gue 1894geo ngeo, gio, gew nCompare SND duo n
garthgarthON garðrnan enclosure, yard, a small patch of enclosed cultivated ground, enclosed pasture (and the house attached to it); a shallow part or stretch of a river which may be used as a fordApplegarth (Dumfriesshire); Garthdee (Aberdeenshire); Fairgirth (Wigtownshire); Auldgirth (Dumfriesshire); Martin Girth (Kirkcudbrightshire); Inchgarth (Aberdeenshire)Apilgarth 1361; Le fischegarth de Esk 1492; Apilgirth 1505; Algarth 1531garth n; S1 garth n; S2 garth ngarth nSee also DOST fisch-garth n
gallow, gallagallowOE galgana gallows, a place of executionGallowgate (Glasgow); Gallatown (Fife); Gallowhill (Aberdeenshire, Ross and Cromarty, Perthshire, West Dunbartonshire, Wigtownshire); Gallowfauld (Angus); Galalaw (Roxburghshire); Gallowdykes (Edinburgh); Gallowhills (Aberdeenshire); Gallows Knowe (West Lothian)Galuraw c1250; Galowhille 1315; Galugat 1317; Gallowmore 1488gallows ngallo(w, galow- n; gallow(i)s, gallous nSee also DOST gallowgate n and gallowhill 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

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.)