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 Examples Historical EvidenceSND LinkDOST LinkNotes
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
langlangOE langalongLangholm (Dumfriesshire); Langlands (Stirlingshire); Langton (Berwickshire); Langbank (Stirlingshire); Langside (Dumfriesshire, Roxburghshire); Langfauld (Fife); Langhill (Stirlingshire); Langhaugh (Angus)Langelaw c1170; Langelandes c1200; Langeside c1225; Langefelle c1270lang adj; S1 lang adj; S2 lang adjlang adj1; ADDS lang adj1; long adj
lamblamOE lambna lamb, a young sheepLambhill (Glasgow); Lambden (Berwickshire); Lamblair Edge (Roxburghshire); Lamb Island (Perthshire); Lamb Rig (Dumfriesshire); (The) Lamb (Firth of Forth); Lamblair Hill (Roxburghshire); Lamblair Knowe (Dumfriesshire)Lambremore c1160; Lambedene 1214-49; Lambhilles 1666; Lamb-Croft 1667lamb n1lam, lamb(e 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
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
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
yettʒetOE geatna gate, a gateway or entrance to a town or building; a natural pass or defile between hillsKirk Yetholm (Roxburghshire); Brae of Yetts (Dunbartonshire); Broadyetts (West Lothian); Rashlieyett (Ayrshire); Moatyett (South Lanarkshire); Wateryett (Ayrshire)le Barres ʒeth 1487; Sanct Leonards yettis 1553-54; Rodin Yett 1568; Mekill Yet 1590; Yetts of Keppel 1828; Yetts of Muckart 1845yett n1; S2 yett n1ʒet(t, yet(t n
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
kingkingOE cyningna king, the kingKingsknowe (Edinburgh); King's Park (Stirling); Kingsmills (Inverness); Kingslinks (Aberdeen); Kingsbarns (Fife); Kingsmuir (Angus); Kingston Grange (Midlothian)Kingeswell c1200; Kingessete c1200; Kyngeston 1221; Kynggesside a1300; Kynggewell a1300; Kyngestrete c1330king n; S1 king n; S2 king nking n; ADDS king n
killkill, kilneOE cylenena kiln; a kiln-shaped chasm in the rocks (linked to the sea by a tunnel)Kiln Knowe (Kirkcudbrightshire); Kilnhill (Angus, South Lanarkshire); Kiln Rocks (Fife); Kiln Croft (Kirkcudbrightshire); Kill Burn (Midlothian); Kiln Plantation (Kirkcudbrightshire); Kilburns (Fife); Halflawkiln (Midlothian); Kiln Strand (Kirkcudbrightshire)the Kill-croft 1627; Halfflakill 1627; Lilmkiln 1773; Halfla Kill 1839kill n1; S2 kill n1kill n1; kiln(e n; ADDS kiln(e 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
kamekameOE cambna long, narrow, steep-sided mound or ridge, a hill-ridge; a small peninsula, a narrow isthmusKame of Isbister (Shetland); Kaimflat (Roxburghshire); Kame of Hoy (Orkney); Easter Kame (Shetland); Kaimes (Fife); Kaimhill (Aberdeenshire); Kaim Head (Edinburgh); Kaimend (Roxburghshire); Kame of Riven Noup (Shetland)Camis 1533; Kems 1654; Kaims Hill 1773; Kaimes 1781kame n; S1 kame n; S2 kame nkame n; came n; kem, keme 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
hunterhuntarOE huntana huntsman, a hunterHunterland (Midlothian); Hunters Hill (Kirkcudbrightshire); Hunterfield (Midlothian); Hunter Hill (Selkirkshire); Hunterlees (South Lanarkshire)Hunterisford c1220; Ormehunterisland 1359; Hunterhill 1541; Huntarseit 1543; Hunterland 1591hunt vhuntar, hunter n1
hungryhungryOE hungriga(of soil) poor, unproductive; a piece of enchanted groundHungry Hill (Dunbartonshire, Fife, West Lothian); Hungryside Bridge (Stirlingshire); Hungry Stone (Kirkcudbrightshire); Hungry Kerse (Stirlingshire)Hungrehill 1566-67; Hungriehill 1628; Hungry Hill 1755; Hungry Kerse 1849hungry adjhungry, houngrye a
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
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
ruid, roodrud, ruidOE rōdna cross, a religious symbol, a chapel or church of the Holy Rood; a plot or unit of land; a piece of ground apportioned from the land belonging to a burgh to anyone wishing to set up house thereon and to cultivate the remainderHolyrood (Edinburgh); Roodlands (East Lothian); Shortroods (Renfrewshire); Roodyards (Angus); Roodland (Ayrshire)de Huntrodes apud Eccles 13thC; Rauphysrohd c1350; Stokrude 1413; Borrow Roods 1764ruid nrud(e, ruid n1; reed nSee also DOST (rede), reid n6; DOST Burrow rudis n and DOSTBorow ruidis 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
holm (2)holmON holmrnan islet, a small (grassy) island (in a loch or off a larger island) often used for pasturageHolm of Grimbister (Orkney); Holm of Rendall (Orkney); Holm of Califf (Shetland); Holms of Vatsland (Shetland); Holm of Cruester (Shetland)Holm a1688; Holms of Spurness 1832; Holm of Huip 1832; Holm of Houss 1887holm n; S1 holm nholm n; ADDS holm nSee also DOST ting holm n
hollinholineOE holegnna holly bushHollandbush (Stirlingshire); Hollinhirst (Dumfriesshire); Hollin Burn (Aberdeenshire); Holland Isle (Kirkcudbrightshire); Hollings (Stirlingshire); Hollen Bush (Wigtownshire)Holenbus 1620; Hollinbusch 1644; Hollings 1742; Hollinheartston 1755hollin nholin(e, holyn(e n
lochlochGael lochnan expanse of standing water, a lake or pond; a narrow or land-locked arm of the seaHogganfield Loch (Glasgow) Lochfauld (Dunbartonshire); Loch of Brockan (Orkney); Corby Loch (Aberdeen); Loch of Aithsness (Shetland); Loch Mill (West Lothian); Lochend (Argyllshire, Inverness-shire); Loch of Mey (Caithness); Duddingston Loch (Edinburgh); Lochshot (West Lothian)Blaklouch a1325; louch medow 1439; Louchside 1451; Burro Lowch 1561-62; North Loch 1569loch n; S2 loch nloch, louche nSee also DOST locheid 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

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.)