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: green
Older Scots Form: grene
Etymology: OE grēne
PoS: a
Definition: grassy, green-coloured; covered in grass or greenery
Modern Examples: Greenlaw (Angus, Berwickshire, Midlothian); Greenhill (Sutherland); Greenwood (Berwickshire); Greenside (Midlothian); Green Nap (Fife); Greenhead (Roxburghshire); Green Shields (Stirlingshire)
Historical Evidence: Grenlaw a1159; Grenerig c1220; Grenesyd(e) 1256-59; Greneheved 1296; Grenhil(cotis) 1317; Grenelaw 1492
SND Link: green adj; S1 green adj; S2 green adj
DOST Link: grene, grein a

Modern Form: green
Older Scots Form: grene
Etymology: OE grēne
PoS: n
Definition: grassy ground, a grassy place; an open piece of grassy ground (in the grounds of a manor or castle); a town or village green
Modern Examples: Glasgow Green (Glasgow); Parson's Green (Edinburgh); Magdalen Green (Dundee); Gunsgreen (Berwickshire); Greens of Gardyne (Angus); Schilgreen (Roxburghshire); Gretna Green (Dumfriesshire); Blairsgreen (Fife)
Historical Evidence: Schelgrene c1320; Wodgrenystoun 1359; Gownisgrein 1580; Smiddiegrein 1652
SND Link: green n; S1 green n; S2 green n
DOST Link: grene, grein n

Modern Form: guse
Older Scots Form: guse
Etymology: OE gōs
PoS: n
Definition: a goose
Modern Examples: Goosedubs (Edinburgh, Glasgow); High and Laigh Gooseloan (Ayrshire); Goose Loch (Selkirkshire); Goosecroft Road (Stirling); Goosefauld (Glasgow)
Historical Evidence: Gwis croft 1538; the guis hawch of Kynmynty 1554; Gusdubbis 1563; Goos Dubb 1721
SND Link: guse n; S1 guse n; S2 guse n; geese n
DOST Link: guse, guis n1

Modern Form: ha
Older Scots Form: hall
Etymology: OE heall, hall
PoS: n
Definition: a large and spacious building, the residence of a magnate; a farm-house (occupied by the farmer himself rather than the cottars)
Modern Examples: Sandyha (Orkney); Temple Hall (Berwickshire); Gallowha (Orkney); Clatterha (Angus); Thornyhaw (Fife); Redhall (Dumfriesshire, Midlothian); Cradlehall (Inverness); Hallyards (Midlothian)
Historical Evidence: Blachall 1329; Halton 1345-50; Tempilishalle 1367; Haw off Lythquow 1489
SND Link: ha n; S1 ha n; S2 ha n
DOST Link: hall, haw n; ADDS hall n
Notes: See also DOST hal(l)is n and halis, hailis n1

Modern Form: haining
Older Scots Form: haning
Etymology: ON hegning, ME haining
PoS: n
Definition: a 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)
Modern Examples: The Haining (Selkirkshire); Haining (Stirlingshire); North Haining Farm (West Lothian); Haining Brae (Edinburgh); Haining Valley (Stirlingshire); Haining Moss (Selkirkshire)
Historical Evidence: le Hayning 1298-99; Hayny[n]gschaw 1348; Hayninghil 1413; Haynyng 1423; haningis of Vrie 1636
SND Link: hain v; S1 hain v; S2 hain v
DOST Link: haining, haning vbl n

Modern Form: hair
Older Scots Form: hare, hore
Etymology: OE hār
PoS: a
Definition: hoary, grey or white (with age); covered with mould or rime; (of a stone) marking a boundary
Modern Examples: Harestanes (Dunbartonshire); Harcarse (Berwickshire); Haregills (Dumfriesshire); Harelawhill (West Lothian); Harestanes Heights (Dumfriesshire)
Historical Evidence: Hares(ch)awes a1240; Harestan c1320; Hairstaines 1673; Harestone 1753
SND Link: hair adj
DOST Link: hare, hair a; hore, hoir a

Modern Form: halie
Older Scots Form: haly
Etymology: OE hālig
PoS: a
Definition: holy
Modern Examples: Holyrood (Edinburgh); Hallidean (Roxburghshire); Holywood (Dumfriesshire); Holywell (Aberdeenshire)
Historical Evidence: Haliwelburn a1230; Halistane 1329; Halywell 1398; Helliman Rig 1881
SND Link: halie adj; S2 halie adj
DOST Link: haly a; holy, holly a

Modern Form: haugh
Older Scots Form: hauch, halch
Etymology: OE halh
PoS: n
Definition: a piece of level alluvial ground on the banks of a river, river- meadow land
Modern Examples: Carterhaugh (Angus); Haughend (Perthshire); The Spittal Haugh (Aberdeenshire); Rosehaugh (Morayshire, Ross and Cromarty); Haugh of Ballechin (Perthshire); The Haugh (Inverness); Haughhead (South Lanarkshire)
Historical Evidence: le Haulch 1373; le Quenys Hauche 1457; the halch of Tannadys 1494; Hervis Haucht 1546; Barhaugh 1596
SND Link: haugh n; S1 haugh n; S2 haugh n
DOST Link: hauch n1; ADDS hauch n1; halch n

Modern Form: hause, hass
Older Scots Form: hals
Etymology: OE hals, ON hals
PoS: n
Definition: a 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’
Modern Examples: 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)
Historical Evidence: Cairn-brae-hawse 1822; Hankhass 1832; The Hawse 1852; Broomhass 1852; Mennock-hass 1874
SND Link: hause n; S2 hause n
DOST Link: hals n; ADDS hals n

Modern Form: hawk
Older Scots Form: hauk, halk
Etymology: OE hafoc
PoS: n
Definition: a hawk
Modern Examples: Hawkhill (Angus, Ayrshire, Fife); Hawkslaw (Berwickshire); Hawksnest (Roxburghshire); Halk Law (Midlothian); Hawknest Rig (Dumfriesshire); Hagbrae (Midlothian); Hawkshole (Dumfriesshire)
Historical Evidence: Hawkeschaws c1320; Haucsland 1379; Haukheid 1405; Haukhirst 1457
SND Link: hawk n
DOST Link: hawk, hauk n; halk n

Modern Form: heather
Older Scots Form: hether, hedder, hather, hadder
Etymology: ME hathir
PoS: n
Definition: heather
Modern Examples: Hedderwick (Angus, East Lothian); Heatherinch (Fife); Heatherbriggs (Aberdeenshire); Heatherstacks (Angus); Heatherwick (Fife); Heathercroft (Sutherland)
Historical Evidence: Hatheruuich 1094; Hathyr brig a1300; Hatherwik 1509 Hetheruik 1654
SND Link: heather n; S1 heather n; S2 heather n
DOST Link: hether, heather n; ADDS hether n, heather n; hed(d)er, heddir n; had(d)ir, had(d)er n; hather, hathir n

Modern Form: heid
Older Scots Form: hede, hevid
Etymology: OE hēafod
PoS: n
Definition: the 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’
Modern Examples: 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)
Historical Evidence: Akin-hede 1260; Hertishede a1300; the hevid of Dedryg 1431; Sancte Albis Hede 1461; Petyrheid 1544; Kynardis heid 1570
SND Link: heid n; S1 heid n; S2 heid n
DOST Link: hede, heid n1; ADDS hede n1; hevid, heved n; ADDS hevid n1' hade, haed n; haid n
Notes: See also DOST toun heid n

Modern Form: heuch, heugh
Older Scots Form: heuch
Etymology: OE hōh
PoS: n
Definition: a 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 quarry
Modern Examples: Millheugh (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)
Historical Evidence: Redhuche 1388; Reidhewis 1390-1406; Reidheuchis 1528; Carisheughe 1590
SND Link: heuch n
DOST Link: heuch, hewch n; huyche
Notes: See also DOST col(e-heuch n

Modern Form: hill
Older Scots Form: hill, hyll
Etymology: OE hyll
PoS: n
Definition: a 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-moss
Modern Examples: Kaim 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)
Historical Evidence: Herishille a1166; Urilhille c1220; Lamby hill c1220; Buttiris hyll 1552
SND Link: hill n; S1 hill n; S2 hill n
DOST Link: hill, hyll n; ADDS hill n

Modern Form: hillock
Older Scots Form: hillok
Etymology: ME hilloc
PoS: n
Definition: a mound, a small hill
Modern Examples: Todhillock (Aberdeenshire); Doghillock (Stirlingshire); Smithyhillock (Aberdeenshire); Cutty Hillock (Fife); Peat Hillock (Aberdeenshire); Burnthillock (Aberdeenshire); Roundhillock (Aberdeenshire)
Historical Evidence: Lammyrhillok 1499; Gallow hillok 1594; Hillok 1600; Sleipie Hillok 1628
SND Link: hill n
DOST Link: hillok n; ADDS hillok n

Modern Form: hine, haven
Older Scots Form: hane, havin
Etymology: OE hæfen
PoS: n
Definition: a haven, a (natural) harbour
Modern Examples: East Hain (Fife); Buckhine (Fife); Longhaven (Aberdeenshire); Broad Haven (Caithness); Sandhaven (Aberdeenshire); North Haven (Aberdeenshire); West Haven (Aberdeenshire)
Historical Evidence: le Bellehauen 1369; the hayne of Wigtoun 1517; the hewin of Sterling 1598-99; Bucky-hine a1779
SND Link: hine n
DOST Link: havin, hevin, heavin n1; ADDS hane, hayne;
Notes: Compare SND hive n and hythe n, and DOST (, hyve n

Modern Form: hirst
Older Scots Form: hirst
Etymology: OE hyrst
PoS: n
Definition: a (hard or barren) hillock, knoll or ridge; the summit of a rocky hill; a bank of sand, shingle or gravel in a river or harbour
Modern Examples: Brocklehirst (Dumfriesshire); Brackenhirst (North Lanarkshire); Ferniehirst (Midlothian, Roxburghshire); Sandy Hirst (East Lothian); South Nettlehirst (Ayrshire)
Historical Evidence: de Twa Hullyrhyrstis 1456; Brakanhirst 1475; Farnihirst 1524-25; Fairnyhirst 1599
SND Link: hirst n
DOST Link: hirst, hyrst n1

Modern Form: hive, hythe
Older Scots Form: hive
Etymology: OE hӯð
PoS: n
Definition: a harbour, a haven, a landing place, an inlet among rocks
Modern Examples: Steenhive (Kincardineshire); Redhythe (Morayshire); Thornyhive Bay (Kincardineshire); Cowhythe (Morayshire); Broad Hive (Aberdeenshire)
Historical Evidence: Stain-hyve 1600; Salt-coat-hive c1680; Guthrie’s hyth 1723; Thorn-hive 1825
SND Link: hive n; hythe n
DOST Link: hive, hyve n
Notes: Compare SND hine n and DOST havin n1 and hane

Modern Form: hollin
Older Scots Form: holine
Etymology: OE holegn
PoS: n
Definition: a holly bush
Modern Examples: Hollandbush (Stirlingshire); Hollinhirst (Dumfriesshire); Hollin Burn (Aberdeenshire); Holland Isle (Kirkcudbrightshire); Hollings (Stirlingshire); Hollen Bush (Wigtownshire)
Historical Evidence: Holenbus 1620; Hollinbusch 1644; Hollings 1742; Hollinheartston 1755
SND Link: hollin n
DOST Link: holin(e, holyn(e n

Modern Form: holm (1), howm
Older Scots Form: holm
Etymology: OE holm, ON holmr
PoS: n
Definition: a stretch of low-lying land beside a river (liable to flooding), a water meadow; a mound, a hollow
Modern Examples: Homehead (Aberdeenshire); Bearholms (Dumfriesshire); Demainholm (Roxburghshire); Cockholm (Midlothian); Broomholm (Dumfriesshire)
Historical Evidence: Kerlyngholm c1240; Mikylholmesyd c1320; Le holme de Wardmedow 1490; Clydis Holm 1553
SND Link: howm n; S1 howm n
DOST Link: holm n; ADDS holm n

Modern Form: holm (2)
Older Scots Form: holm
Etymology: ON holmr
PoS: n
Definition: an islet, a small (grassy) island (in a loch or off a larger island) often used for pasturage
Modern Examples: Holm of Grimbister (Orkney); Holm of Rendall (Orkney); Holm of Califf (Shetland); Holms of Vatsland (Shetland); Holm of Cruester (Shetland)
Historical Evidence: Holm a1688; Holms of Spurness 1832; Holm of Huip 1832; Holm of Houss 1887
SND Link: holm n; S1 holm n
DOST Link: holm n; ADDS holm n
Notes: See also DOST ting holm n

Modern Form: hope (1)
Older Scots Form: hope
Etymology: OE hop
PoS: n
Definition: a small upland valley or hollow (enclosed at the upper end by green hills or ridges); a sloping hollow between two hills; a hill
Modern Examples: Dryhope (Selkirkshire); Fawhope (Roxburghshire); Harthope Burn (Dumfriesshire); Kershope (Roxburghshire); Soonhope (Berwickshire); Hopefield (Midlothian); Hyndhope (Selkirkshire); Wauchope (Dumfriesshire); Corsehope (Midlothian); Sweethope (Roxburghshire); Blackhope (Midlothain)
Historical Evidence: Berhope c1190; Ruhope c1190; Elrehope c1200; Hollehope 1200-02
SND Link: hope n1; S1 hope n1
DOST Link: hope, hoip n2

Modern Form: hope (2), hoob
Older Scots Form: hope
Etymology: ON hóp
PoS: n
Definition: a small bay or haven
Modern Examples: St Margaret's Hope (Fife, Orkney); The Houb (Shetland); Chalmers Hope (Orkney); St Andrews Hope (Fife); Houb of Scatsta (Shetland); Pan Hope (Orkney)
Historical Evidence: Lovnan houp 17thC; St Margaret’s Hope a1688; Kirk-hope a1688; North-hope 1700; Pan Houp 1795
SND Link: hope n2; hoob n
DOST Link: hope, houp n5
Notes: See also SND ob n

Modern Form: hungry
Older Scots Form: hungry
Etymology: OE hungrig
PoS: a
Definition: (of soil) poor, unproductive; a piece of enchanted ground
Modern Examples: Hungry Hill (Dunbartonshire, Fife, West Lothian); Hungryside Bridge (Stirlingshire); Hungry Stone (Kirkcudbrightshire); Hungry Kerse (Stirlingshire)
Historical Evidence: Hungrehill 1566-67; Hungriehill 1628; Hungry Hill 1755; Hungry Kerse 1849
SND Link: hungry adj
DOST Link: hungry, houngrye a

Modern Form: hunter
Older Scots Form: huntar
Etymology: OE hunta
PoS: n
Definition: a huntsman, a hunter
Modern Examples: Hunterland (Midlothian); Hunters Hill (Kirkcudbrightshire); Hunterfield (Midlothian); Hunter Hill (Selkirkshire); Hunterlees (South Lanarkshire)
Historical Evidence: Hunterisford c1220; Ormehunterisland 1359; Hunterhill 1541; Huntarseit 1543; Hunterland 1591
SND Link: hunt v
DOST Link: huntar, hunter n1

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 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.)