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.

Do you have any more examples of place-names which use these words? If so, tell us about them!

Browse the entire collection by clicking the 'Search' button without any keyword.

Page 4 of 8

Switch to List View

Modern FormOlder Scots FormEtymologyPoSDefinition Modern ExamplesHistorical EvidenceSND LinkDOST LinkNotes
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
kirktonkirktounON kirkja, OE kirke + OE tūnna town or village situated by a church, the hamlet in which the parish church of a rural parish is located; a farm adjacent to a churchKirkton of Bourtie (Aberdeenshire); Kirkton (Fife, Midlothian, Roxburghshire); Kirktonbridge Cottages (Aberdeenshire); Kirkton of Cults (Fife); Kirkton of Tough (Aberdeenshire); Kirkton Muir (Kincardineshire); Nether Kirkton (Aberdeenshire); Kirktonhill (Dumfriesshire)Kyrchetune c1145; Kirketun 1206; Kirketun super Stryvelin 1319; kyrktoune 1403kirk n1; S2 kirk n1kirk-, kyrktoun nSee also DOST kirk-clachan n
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
tolltolOE tollna tax or duty; a checkpoint on a turnpike road where tolls were collected, a toll-bar; (a collection point for) tolls on imported or exported goods, or the privelege of selling goods in a marketEglington Toll (Glasgow); Cameron Toll (Edinburgh); Barnhill Tollhouse (Perth); Tollcross (Edinburgh, Glasgow); Toll Bar Cott (Kirkcudbright); Clushford Toll (Fife); Bonnybridge Toll (Stirlingshire)tolbotha de Suthbervyc 1283-98; le Tolcorse 1458; Towcross 1662; Cairntows 1773toll n1tol(l nSee also DOST tolbuth(e, towbuth(e n and SND tolbooth n
tailtailna tail; a long, narrow strip of ground, generally adjoining and stretching backwards from the site or garden of a house or croft; a small division of land attached to a larger division like a tail; the lower end or hindmost part of a piece of land or watercourse; the tail-race of a mill; the end of a sandbankMilltail (Fife); Tails of Stow (Orkney); Tail of the Skerry (Orkney)Thailbog 1219-33; the taill of Quoybankis 1578; the taills of Auld Aberden 1608; the Tail End 1611; the tail of the bank 1822tail n; S2 tail ntail, tale n
bentbentOE beonetna strong coarse variety of grass of a reedy or rush-like character (found on moorland or links); a place where such grass grows; a sandy hillock or a stretch of open ground covered with bent grass; a (grassy) slope or hillsideBenthead (Ayrshire, West Lothian); Gullane Bents (East Lothian); Bentfoot (North Lanarkshire); The Bents (West Lothian); White Bents (Angus)The Bentis 1586; Bents of Balruddie 1662; Broadbents 1773; Southbent 1755bent n1; S1 bent n1; bent n2bent n
holm (1), howmholmOE holm, ON holmrna stretch of low-lying land beside a river (liable to flooding), a water meadow; a mound, a hollowHomehead (Aberdeenshire); Bearholms (Dumfriesshire); Demainholm (Roxburghshire); Cockholm (Midlothian); Broomholm (Dumfriesshire)Kerlyngholm c1240; Mikylholmesyd c1320; Le holme de Wardmedow 1490; Clydis Holm 1553howm n; S1 howm nholm n; ADDS holm n
kylekyleGael caolna strait or sound; a narrow arm of the sea; a narrow part of a riverKyles of Bute (Argyllshire); Kyle of Lochalsh (Inverness-shire); Kyle of Sutherland (Sutherland); Kyle of Tongue (Sutherland)Kyle of Aran 1549; Kyle de Glenalmond 1624; Kyll of Glenamount 1641; Kyle of Shuna 1730kyle n1kyle, kyll n
stanestaneOE stān, ON steinnna stone; a rock, a boundary stone, a landmark, a stone used as a meeting placeThirlestane (Berwickshire, Selkirkshire); Harestanes (Dunbartonshire, Fife, Roxburghshire); Stanerig (Stirlingshire); Shoestanes (Midlothian); Stenton (Fife); Brigstanes (Kincardineshire); Stenhouse (Dumfriesshire, Edinburgh, Fife); Brotherstone (Berwickshire, Midlothian)Staincros 1165-1214; Steinreise bech 1194-1214; Stanhus 1214-49; Thirlestan c1260; Stenhyve 1607; Steanhous 1666stane n; S1 stane n; S2 stane n; stone n1stan(e n
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
starstarON stǫrrna species of grass or sedge (growing on moorish or boggy ground); land covered in sedgesStarlaw (West Lothian); Starcleuch Edge (Roxburghshire); Star Wood (East Lothian); Star Burn (South Lanarkshire); Starhill (Banffshire)star of Kelle 1471; (le) Starlaw 1468 the stare myr 1549; Sterlaw 1618star n2star(e n3
smiddiesmiddyOE smiþþe, ON smiðjana smithy, the workshop of a smith, a blacksmith’s shop, a forgeSmiddyhill (Aberdeenshire); Smiddyboyne (Banffshire); Buchanan Smithy (Stirlingshire); Smiddiecroft (Aberdeenshire); Smithy Hill (Wigtownshire); Smithyhillock (Aberdeenshire)Smythyhill 1379; Smethy Barr 1426; Smethycrofft 1456; Smedebar 1540-41smiddie n; S2 smiddie nsmithy nSee also DOST (Smiddy-land,) Smid(d)ieland, n
hope (1)hopeOE hopna small upland valley or hollow (enclosed at the upper end by green hills or ridges); a sloping hollow between two hills; a hillDryhope (Selkirkshire); Fawhope (Roxburghshire); Harthope Burn (Dumfriesshire); Kershope (Roxburghshire); Soonhope (Berwickshire); Hopefield (Midlothian); Hyndhope (Selkirkshire); Wauchope (Dumfriesshire); Corsehope (Midlothian); Sweethope (Roxburghshire); Blackhope (Midlothain)Berhope c1190; Ruhope c1190; Elrehope c1200; Hollehope 1200-02hope n1; S1 hope n1hope, hoip n2
sykesikeOE sīc, ON síkna small stream; a ditch or channel containing a stream or rivulet; a marshy hollow (through which a stream flows), a cleft in the groundSikeside (North Lanarkshire); Colliesyke (West Lothian); Sauchy Sike (Dumfriesshire); Threepsikes (Fife); Adie's Syke (Midlothian); Liggat Syke (West Lothian); Whitesykes (Midlothian); Allery Sike (Dumfriesshire)Blindsyke a1398; modirsyke 1457; Foulsyik 1571; Murroksyke 1579; Fouladge syke 1665; the syke called Coallyears boignesyke 1683syke n; S2 syke nsike, syk(e nSee also DOST (siket) syketh, sichet, sychet n
know, knoweknow, knollOE cnollna small rounded hill, a hillock or mound (sometimes associated with fairies)Acreknowe (Roxburghshire); Crowdieknowe (Dumfriesshire); Knowe of Grugar (Orkney); Mill Knowe (Argyllshire); Tappetknowe (Stirlingshire); Silver Knowe (Perthshire); Gallows Knowe (West Lothian); Knowe of Steeringlo (Orkney) Knowehead (Aberdeenshire, Angus); Broomknowe (Fife); Knowe of Burgarth (Shetland); Silverknowes (Edinburgh); Dam Knowe (Wigtownshire)Brunecnolh 1165-1249; Knolestruthyr c1350; Lie widderitknow 1599; Clerks Know 1754know n; S1 know n; S2 know nknoll n; know n
cotcot, coteOE cotna small house, a humble dwelling, a cottage; a sheep-houseSaltcoats (Ayrshire, East Lothian); Cotts of Innes (Morayshire); Cauldcoats (Midlothian); Gatehousecote (Roxburghshire); Lochcote (West Lothian); Banks Cott (Kirkcudbrightshire); Butchercoat (Berwickshire); Coates (Midlothian)Grenhilcotis c1320; Saltcotis 1368; Lochcot(t)is 1471; Coitcroft 1576cot n; S2 cot ncot, cott n3; cote, coit n2See also DOST cotland n and cote-, coit-, coatland, n; and DOST cot-toun n
knockknokGael cnocna small hill or hillock, especially one in isolationKnock of Formal (Angus); Knock Hill (Aberdeenshire); Easter Knock (Aberdeenshire); West Knock (Angus); East Knock (Angus)Knokis 1330; Knok 1364; Heslisid Knok 1525; Knokhill 1541knock n3knok, knock n3
hope (2), hoobhopeON hópna small bay or havenSt Margaret's Hope (Fife, Orkney); The Houb (Shetland); Chalmers Hope (Orkney); St Andrews Hope (Fife); Houb of Scatsta (Shetland); Pan Hope (Orkney)Lovnan houp 17thC; St Margaret’s Hope a1688; Kirk-hope a1688; North-hope 1700; Pan Houp 1795hope n2; hoob nhope, houp n5See also SND ob n
shawschawOE sceaga, scaga, ON skagina small (natural) wood, a copse, a thicket, a grove; a bank of narrow ground at the top which broadens out towards the footPollokshaws (Glasgow); Shawhead (North Lanarkshire); Shaw Brae (Kirkcudbrightshire); Kirkshaws (North Lanarkshire); Shaw Hill (Wigtownshire); Shaw Fell (Kirkcudbrightshire)Haresawes a1240; Crennescawe 1214-49; Swynschawis 1265; Langesawe 1294; Hawkeschaws 1315-21shaw n2s(c)haw n1
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
skerrieskerryON skerna skerry, an isolated reef or rocky islet in the seaSkerry of the Sound (Orkney); Covsea Skerries (Morayshire); Seal Skerry (Orkney); Skerries of Fuglaness (Shetland); Little Skerries (Morayshire)Selchiskerrie; 1634; Skerrie of Burrafirth 164; Selchskerrie 1655; Inner Skerry 1887skerrie n; S2 skerrie nskerry nCompare DOST skelly n and SND skerrie n2; see also DOST skirrach n
skellieskelly? OIr sceillecna skerry, a ridge of rock on a seashore (covered at high water)Maw Skelly (Angus); Skellies Rocks (Fife); The Skellies (Aberdeenshire); Mary's Skelly (Fife); Longskelly Point (East Lothian); Corskelly (Aberdeenshire); Cuttyskelly (Fife)the quheit skellie 1577; Mill Skelly 1855; Westland Skelly 1855; Skelly Rocks 1864skellie n2skelly nCompare DOST skerry n and SND skerrie n
sideside, sydeOE sīdena side, a slope or hillside; the edge of a forest; a bank or shore of a river or sea, the lands adjacent to a waterway; an area lying adjacent to or at the side of a particular building, place or route; a seashoreKelvinside (Glasgow); Morningside (Edinburgh); Mosside of Kirkbuddo (Angus); Braeside of Cults (Fife); Myreside (Angus); Thickside (Roxburghshire); Bemersyde (Berwickshire); Gateside (Angus); Breckonside (Dumfriesshire)Cirnside c1098; Galtunesside a1153; Birchinsyde 12thC; Fausydde a1199; Bemersyd c1220; Grenesid c1220side n; S2 side nsid(e nSee also DOST gat(e-syd(e n, water-side n and bra-side n
soutersoutarOE sūterena shoemaker, a cobblerThe Sutors (Ross and Cromarty); Souterhill (Aberdeenshire); Souterhouse (North Lanarkshire); Souterland (Midlothian); Sutor Stacks (Ross and Cromarty); Souterford (Aberdeenshire)swtercrophtdyk a1325; Sutergate 1337; Sowttergait 1563; Soutarland 1696; The Cromarty Sutors 1854souter n; S2 souter nsoutar 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

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.)