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 7 of 8

Switch to List View

Modern FormOlder Scots FormEtymologyPoSDefinitionModern ExamplesHistorical EvidenceSND LinkDOST LinkNotes
sheepschepe, chepeOE scēap, scēpn(a) sheepSheepbridge (Fife); Sheep Lairs (Kirkcudbrightshire); Sheep House (Midlothian); Sheep Hill (Kirkcudbrightshire)Scypwel c1143-47; Schipwell 1165-1214; Schepehinche 1261; Schypinche 1262; Shepwell 1337; Schephalche 1374-75sheep n1; S2 sheep n2s(c)hep(e, s(c)heip, s(c)hip n; chep(e, cheip n2
shielscheleME schelena rude (wooden) hut, a temporary building for seasonal accommodation or storage, a bothy; a shed; an outhouse; a small cottage, a hovel; a piece of pasturage on which a hut has been built, a summer pasturage; a shelter used by fishermen; a sheepcot; a summer or country retreat in the hills occupied by the gentryFoulshiels (Roxburghshire); Shiels of Glendui (Aberdeenshire); Ketlleshiel (Berwickshire); North Shiel (West Lothian); Shielhill (Aberdeenshire, Angus); Cauldshiel (East Lothian); Galashiels (Selkirkshire); Shielwalls (Stirlingshire)Bothkillscheles a1159; Windicheles c1200 Schotteschales 1202-8; Mayschelis a1214shiel n; S1 shiel nschele, s(c)heil(l n
slackslakON slakkinhollow or depression in the ground; a valley between hills; a low-lying waterlogged depression in the ground, a marsh, a morass, boggy ground on a valley floorSlackhead (Banffshire); Gateslack (Dumfriesshire); Aikie Slack (Kirkcudbrightshire); Slacks of Glencarvie (Aberdeenshire); Windy Slack (Midlothian); Mitchellslacks (Dumfriesshire); Beeslack (Midlothian)Catslak 1456; How Slak 1458-59; Grene-slak 1540; Broom Slack 1565; Chamar Slack 1719; St Ethernens Slack 1723slack n2; S2 slack n2slak n1
slapslopMiddle Dutch slopna gap, breach or hole (in a wall), an entrance or exit, an opening; a narrow lane running between houses; a pass or shallow valley between hills; a gateSlap of Quoybeezie (Orkney); Waterslap (Stirlingshire); Slap of Faravill (Orkney); Coldstone Slap (Midlothian); Kirkslap (Stirlingshire); Slap of Warth (Orkney); Mote Slap (Wigtownshire); Slap of Grindela (Orkney)Liggʒet Slappe 1561; Claysclope 1635; Barkerland slop 1707; Coldstaine Slap 1715slap n2; S2 slap n2slop, slap n1
smithsmyth, smethOE smið, ON smiðrnone who works in metal, a smithSmithfield (Aberdeen, Fife); Smeaton (Fife, Midlothian); Smith's Lands (Midlothain); Smithton (Inverness)Smithetun 12thC; Smythishalch 1321; Smethwod 1327; Smeithfield 1329-71smith nsmith(e, smyth(t 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
southsouthOE sūþasituated in, or belonging to, the south; southern, southerlySouth Inch (Aberdeenshire); South Queensferry (West Lothian); South Nettlehirst (Ayrshire); South Mains (Angus); South Kessock (Inverness); Southfield (Midlothian); South Glen (Stirlingshire)Suthberwik c1170; Sutblan 1236; Suthtun de Laynal c1248; Suthebuttes 13thC; Southgate 1449-50; Southfelde 1450south a; S2 south asouth a
spoutspoutME spowtena well, a forceful movement or discharge of water; a spring of water (issuing from the ground or a rock); a waterfall, a cascade, a cataract; a narrow enclosed defile or pathway, a gully in the face of cliffs; a narrow lane between houses; a pipe or conduitThe Red Spout (Aberdeenshire); Lynn Spout (Ayrshire); Spout Wells (Perthshire, Wigtownshire); Lochspouts (Ayrshire); Black Spout (Aberdeenshire, Perthshire); Spout Park (West Lothian); Corrie Spout (Stirlingshire); Garnock Spout (Renfrewshire); Spout of Ballagan (Stirlingshire)Sanct Mwngowis Spowtis 1558; Spoutwellis 1585-6; Spoutwells 1662; The Spout of Welltrees 1807spout n; S2 spout nspout 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
staniestanyOE stānigaabundant in stones; characterised by stone or stonesStaney Hill (Roxburghshire); Stoneywood (Stirlingshire); Stanygill (Roxburghshire); Stoneyhill Wood (Aberdeen); Stoneyport (Midlothian); Stonyford (Angus); Stoneyflat (Midlothian); Stonywynd (Fife); Stoneyhill (Midlothian)Staniford 1165-82; Stanyacre c1250; Stanyburne 1597; Stanie Mailing 1660 (1663)stane n; stane S2stany adj
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
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
steidstedeOE stedenan inhabited place, a hamlet or village; an area of land, a landed property or estate, a farm; a dwelling-place; the site of a building, the piece of land on which a building standsNewstead (Roxburghshire); Kirkstead (Selkirkshire); Millstead (Dumfriesshire); Castle Steads (Midlothian); Middlestead (Selkirkshire)Selestede 1165-1214; Castilsted 13thC; le stede de Kynewarde 1509; Hannykyn kill steid 1560steid n; S2 steid nsted(e, steid n1
strathstrathGael srathna wide river valley, a stretch of relatively flat, fertile land bounded by hillsWester Strath (West Lothian); Strath of Kildonan (Sutherland); Strath Mill (West Lothian); Strath of Menteith (Perthshire); Strathloanhead (West Lothian)La Strath de Ogilface 1386; the Strath of Menteth 1507-8; Easter Strayth 1588; Strath-loan 1682; Straith(h)ill 1698strath n, S2 strath nstrath(e, straith(e n
swineswyneOE swīnna pig, pigsSwinewaird (Kincardineshire); Swinewood (Berwickshire); Swineside Hall (Roxburghshire); Swineford (Midlothian); Soonhope (Berwickshire); Swine's Cleugh (Midlothian); Swinedrum (Kirkcudbrightshire); Swine Fell (Wigtownshire)swhynhope c1200; Swineshales 1230; Swineford 1258; Swynschawis 1265swine nswine, swyn(e n
swireswyreOE swīra, ON svírina hollow or declivity between hills (through which a road runs); a hollow or level place near the top of a hill; a neck (of land)Redeswire Fray (Roxburghshire); Roughsware (Midlothian); Swyre (Dumfriesshire); Sware Brae (Kirkcudbrightshire); Swire Knowe (Roxburghshire); Dewar Swire (Midlothian); Sware Burn (Dumfriesshire); Sware Head (Kirkcudbrightshire); Sware Knowe (Dumfriesshire); Swire Syke (Roxburghshire); Ludsgill Sware (Dumfriesshire)Hethouswyre 1214-49; Buchswyre 1327; Reid Swyre 1575; Hardhaugh swire c1800swire nswire, swyr(e 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
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
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
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
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
thorterthortourME þwertoueraslanted, squint, awry; running across or at an oblique angleThorterdykes (Roxburghshire); Thorter Fell (Kirkcudbrightshire); Thorter Row (Dundee); Thorter Burn (East Lothian)Thwortour-Raw 1489-90; thuorter land 1490; thortyrland 1535; thuortour gaittis of Korstoun 1569; thorter raw 1720thorter adjthorto(u)r, thwortour, thwartour adj
threapthrepe, threipME Þrepena dispute, a quarrel (with regard to ownership of land)Thriepland (Banffshire); Threaprig (North Lanarkshire); Threepwood (South Lanarkshire); Threapmuir (Kinross-shire); Threipmuir Reservoir (Midlothian)Threpland c1200; Hafthrepland 1383; Threpleche 1425; threpfelde 1463threap n, S2 threap nthrep(e, threip n
todtodME todna foxTodhills (Angus, Midlothian); Todrig (Berwickshire); Todrigs Burn (Ayrshire); Todholes (Caithness, Dumfriesshire); Todlhole Knowe (Midlothian); Todhillock (Aberdeenshire); Todhead Point (Kincardineshire)Todholerig 1165-82; Thodholesid 1214-49; Todlaw 1222; Todhillis 1587; Todhoillis 1621tod n1tod n1
voevoe, woON vágrnan inlet of the sea, a deep bay or long creek, a fjordVoe of Sound (Shetland); East Voe of Quarff (Shetland); West Voe of Sumburgh (Shetland); Voe of Clousta (Shetland)Voe of Sara 1733; North Voe 1832; South Voe 1832; East Voe of Scalloway 1887voe n; S2 voe nvo(e, wo 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.)