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 FormEtymology PoSDefinitionModern ExamplesHistorical EvidenceSND LinkDOST LinkNotes
bankbankON bakki, *banki, ME bankena bank, a river bank; a raised shelf or ridge of ground; steep cliffs or precipitous rocks (along the coast); a hill slope; a foot-path or walk; the place in a moss from which peats are cut; the boundary line of a farmClydebank (Dunbartonshire); Bankfoot (Perthshire); Scrogbank (Selkirkshire); Meadowbank (Edinburgh); Springbank (Wigtownshire); Bankend (Dumfriesshire); Greenbank (Aberdeenshire); Nessbank (Inverness)Byrkebanke 13thC; Brerybankes 1367; Bankhede 1519; Bankend 1546bank n2, S1 bank n2, bakk n1bank n1
middenmiddin, middingON *myki-dyngja, ME myddingna dunghill, a refuse heap; a boggy placeMidden Craig (Kirkcudbrightshire); Black Midden (Aberdeenshire); The Middens (Fife); Carsehope Middens (South Lanarkshire)Blakmiddingis 1508; Mydynnes 1517; Middendub 1781; The Middens 1855 (OS Fife v3)midden n, S1 midden n, S2 midden nmid(d)in(g 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
trontroneOF tronenthe public steelyard or weighing-machine in a burgh, set up in or near the market-place for the weighing of various types of heavy or coarse goods; the district around the tronTrongate (Glasgow); Tron Kirk (Edinburgh); St George's-Tron Church (Glasgow); Tron (Edinburgh); Tron Knowe (North Lanarkshire)Tronum de Edinburgh 1446; Troyne Gait 1545; Troingait 1553; Tron kirk 1689; Tron-knowe 1880tron ntron(e nSee also SNDS1 trouan n
tarnty, tarantytrinitéOF trinitenthe trinity, the three aspects of the Godhead collectivelyTrinity Gask (Perthshire); Trinity (Angus, Edinburgh); Trinity College (Glasgow); Trinity Hall (Aberdeen); Trinity Church (Glasgow)le Trinite burn 1488; College of Trynite 1498-99; Trinity Mure 1692; Auld Tarrnty Ha' 1887; Taranty Muir 1892tarnty n; S1 tar(a)nty ntrinité, trinity n
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
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
stankstankOF estancna pool, a pond, a fish pond (on an estate); the area of ground around a pond; a small semi-stagnant (overgrown) sheet of water, a stretch of slow-moving water, a sluggish stream; a ditch, an open watercourse; a gutter, a drainage channelBlack Stank (Wigtownshire); Stankards (West Lothian); Fivestanks (West Lothian); Gowan Stank (West Lothian)Castilstank 13thC; Hawedenstank 1397; Houden Stank 1398; Stank of Fowles 1590stank n1; S2 stank n1stank n1
cuningarcuningar, cunnigarOF conninière, ME conyngerna rabbit warrenKinningars Park (West Lothian); Cunningar Wood (Aberdeenshire); The Cuningar (West Lothian); Cunningar (Midlothian)Cunyngare 1491; Cunneger hill 1496; Cunnynger hillis1514; Cunnyngayrland 1543cuningar ncuningar, cunningair n; (cunigar), cunnigare n; conyngar(e n; *cuneinyaird n; kunynʒare nsee also DOST cunnygarth n
connie, coney, kinnen, kunnoconing, cuningOF conin, conil, ME conyngna rabbitConey Park (Stirlingshire); Coneyhatch (Kincardineshire); Kinnen Hill (West Lothian); Cuninghowes (Edinburgh)The Cunyshill c.1540; Cunninghills 1688; Cuninboigs 1688; Kinningbrae 1698connie n; kinnen n; S1 kinnen n, kunno nconing, conyng n; cuning, cunning n; qwneing n; kinning n
thorny, toarnythorny, thornieOE þornigafilled with or composed of thorn trees or bushesThornybank (Banffshire); Thorniethwaite (Dumfriesshire); Thornyside (Ayrshire); Turniedykes (Midlothian); Thornyhaw (Fife); Thornyhills (South Lanarkshire); Thornyhive Bay (Kincardineshire); Thornycrook (Midlothian)Thorniflat 1272-1316; Thornidyk a1300; Thornyle a1390; Thornydykis 1406toarny adjthorny adj
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
thiefthefeOE þīof, þēof ON þiófrnone who steals, a robber or thiefThief Sike (Roxburghshire); Thiefs Cave (Perthshire); Thieves Knowes (Shetland); Thief's Hill (Dunbartonshire)Theuisford 1147-60; Theuisbrig 1493; theiffis brig 1501-2; Theiffis-port 1574-75thief n; S1 thief nthef(e, theif(e, thief n
wrichtwrichtOE wyrhtana wright, a wood-worker or carpenterWrightshouses (Midlothian); Wright's Knowe (Kirkcudbrightshire); Wrighthill (Ayrshire); Wrights Croft (Aberdeenshire); Wrightfield (Ross and Cromarty)Wrychtyshousis 1382; Wrichtishouse(s) 1458; Wrychtland 1531-32; Wreuchtsland 1630wricht nwricht, wrycht, wrech(t n
wuidwodeOE wudunan area of trees (smaller than a forest), a stretch or piece of woodland; (of a place) wooded, consisting of treesWoodlands (Glasgow); Legerwood (Berwickshire); Holywood (Dumfriesshire); Woodend (Aberdeen); Williamwood (Glasgow); Woodneuk (Renfrewshire); Harwood (Roxburghshire); Woodinch (Perthshire); Woodmill (Fife)Swinewde 1097-1107; Wudehorn 1152; Ringwude 1153-65; Ledgerdwode 1165-73; Wudeschirche c1180wuid n: S1 wuid n; S2 wuid nwod(e n
windywyndyOE windigaexposed to the wind, frequently windyWindyhill (Dunbartonshire); Windyrise (Ayrshire); Windie Edge (North Lanarkshire); Windyshields (South Lanarkshire); Windy Yett (Stirlingshire); Windywa's (West Lothian); Windy Mill (Angus); Windydoors (Midlothian)Windeshoure 1165-1214; windilawes 1260-8; Windiduris 13thC; Wynderigz 1327-28; Wyndiduris 1456; Wyndeedge 1561windy adjwyndy, -ie adj
waster, westerwesterOE westerraawestern, lying to the west; the more westerly of two places (in contrast with easter)Wester Hailes (Edinburgh); Westerton (Angus, Glasgow); Wester Ross (Ross and Cromarty); Westerwood (Dunbartonshire); Wester Inshes (Inverness); Wester Pitlour (Fife); Wester Causewayend (Midlothian)Westercaledoure 1170-72; Westircarne 13thC; Wastirker 1309; Vaster Leochel 1524-25waster awester a; ouster a
wast, westwest, wastOE westasituated in, or belonging to, the west; westerlyWest Craigs (West Lothian); West Barns (East Lothian); West Inch (Aberdeenshire); Westraw (South Lanarkshire); West Grange (Stirling); West Haven (Aberdeenshire); Westhill (Inverness)Westfulhope 1165-1214; Westlillisclive 1214-49; Westfeld 1294; Wasthall 1544wast adj; S2 wast adjwest, wast adjSee also DOST west side n and DOST west end n
wedderwedderOE weðerna (castrated) male sheepWedderlie (Berwickshire); Weddersbie (Fife); Wether Law (Berwickshire); Wedder Hill (Ayrshire); Wedderlairs (Berwickshire); Wedderburn (Berwickshire)Wedyrburne 1198-1214; Wederleye c1250; Wedderlee 1494; Weddergang 1609 (1610); Wetherlairis 1628wedder nweddir, woddir, wadder, wether n2
wawall, wawOE weall, wallna wall, a boundary wall; the defensive walls or ramparts (around a town or castle); (in plural) roofless buildings, ruinsDun’s Wa’s (Kirkcudbrightshire); Back o’ Wa’ (Wigtownshire); Waas (Fife); Jean's Wa's (Kirkcudbrightshire); Bratney Wa’s (Wigtownshire); Aitkin's Wa's (Kirkcudbrightshire)(The) Corsswallis 1552; the walneuk of Paislaye 1621; Schawiswallis 1622; Grahames Walls 1649; Badgels-wolls 1681; Guns Walls 1755wa n; S2 wa nwal(l, wa(w n
waterywattiryOE wæterigafull of water, well watered, wateryEaster Watery Knowe (Angus); Wester Watery Knowe (Angus); Wateryslack (Aberdeenshire); Waterybutts (Perthshire)Wattridike c1230; Watryraw 1405; Wetterybuttis 1567; Watrielawes 1664water n; S1 water n; S2 water nwattiry, wat(t)(e)ry adj
waterwattir, watterOE wæterna large stream (between a burn and a river in size), a tributary of a river; a river valley; a lake, a sheet of waterHowe Water (Aberdeenshire); Water of Luce (Wigtownshire); Whiteadder Water (Berwickshire); Water of Leith (Edinburgh); Markie Water (Aberdeenshire); Waterside (Dumfriesshire, Wigtownshire); Eye Water (Berwickshire); Water of Tarf (Angus)Blacwater 13thC; Watirtoun 1342; watir of Dee 15thC; Wattirheid 1649water n; S1 water n; S2 water nwa(t)tir n
weet, watweitOE wǣt, ON vátrawet, boggy, waterloggedWeetfoot Bog (Berwickshire); Weetfit (Fife); Wetlands (Aberdeenshire); Wetshaw (Kincardineshire); Witholm (Midlothian)Weteflatwel 1300-31; Weitschaw 1540; Weitlandis 1552-3; Vitfute 1567; Weetlands 1687weet adj; S2 weet adj; wat adjweit adj
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
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

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.)