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
breckan, brechanbrakanME brakennbrackenBreckonside (Dumfriesshire); Breconrae (Dumfriesshire); Brackenhirst (North Lanarkshire); Brekenrig (Dumfriesshire); Bracken Falls (Wigtownshire); Brackenleys (Stirlingshire); Breconside (Kirkcudbrightshire); Breckenshank (Dumfriesshire)Brakanwra c1270; Brakenrig 1428; Brakanhirst 1475; Brakanrig 1504brachan, brachen, brechan n; bracken n; breckan, brecken nbrakan, braikane n1
biggin, biggingbigging, byggyngME biggingna building, a cottage; a cluster of houses, a hamletNewbigging (Abderdeenshire, Angus, Dumfriesshire, Fife, Kincardineshire, Midlothian, Morayshire, Roxburghshire, South Lanarkshire, West Lothian); Lower Bigging(s) Upper Bigging(s) (Orkney)Newbigginghe 1153; Neubiggyng 1315; Shirrefbyggyng 1374; Neubiging 1569biggin(g), biggen', biggan n2; S2 biggin(g) n2biggin(g, byggyn(g n
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
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
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
inchinch; inshGael innisnan island; a piece of ground rising in the middle of a plain; a low-lying tract of ground on a river bank (sometimes cut off at high tide)Wester Inshes (Inverness); South Inch (Aberdeenshire); The King's Inch (Renfrewshire); Inchwood (Stirlingshire); Little Inch (Fife); Netherinch (Stirlingshire); Heatherinch (Fige)Redinche 1198-9; Stan Inche 13thC; le Kingis Inche 1450; Sanct Serfis ynche 1567; Keyth Inch c1680inch ninch n2; ins(c)h
glenglenGael glenn, gleannna hollow or valley (traversed by a stream or river); a steep narrow-sided valley; the mountain reaches of a mountain valley; a dell, a ravineGlenhead (Stirlingshire); The Great Glen (Inverness-shire); Glenburn (Fife, Renfrewshire); Glens of Foudland (Aberdeenshire); Rouken Glen (Glasgow); The Sma' Glen (Perthshire); The Fairy Glen (Ross and Cromarty)le Glen 1292; the Glen 1502; Glenshott 1656; Glenheid 1662; Glenhead 1665glen nglen n
craigcragGael creag, ME cragna cliff on the sea or mountain-side, a projecting spur of rock; (in plural) rocky ground; sea-rocks, cliffsEastcraigs (Edinburgh); Craigmire (Aberdeenshire); White Craig (Stirlingshire); Williamcraigs (West Lothian); Little Craigs (Ayrshire); Craigend (Angus); Westcraigs (West Lothian); Maw Craig (Aberdeenshire); Craighead (Ayrshire)Krag 1278; Villamis Craigis c.1335; White Cragg 1370; Westecrage of Egilsface 1392craig, crag n1; S1 craig n1; S2 craig n1crag, crage, craig n1
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
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
bogbog, boigGael bog, bogachna bog, a mireBogton (North Lanarskhire); Bogside (Stirlingshire); Bogwells (Fife); Boghead (Dunbartonshire); Bogtown (Stirlingshire); Bogleys (Fife); Boghall (Angus)Harebogge 1359; Blakeboggys 1359; Lochlebogsyd 1374; bogside 1417; Boighaw 1478bog, boag n3bog n; ADDS bog n
pappap?ON *pap, ME papna breast, a nipple, one of a group of two or more conical hillsThe Paps of Jura (Argyllshire); Maidens Paps (Dunbartonshire); Meikle Pap (Aberdeenshire); The Little Pap (Aberdeenshire); Maidenpap (Kirkcudbright); The Pap (Aberdeenshire); Peter's Paps (Wigtownshire)Madynpap 1459; The Paiplaw a1578; the thre Papes of Ida 1632; the Paps of Jurah 1703pap n1pap, pape n1
peatpete?Celtic *pett, OIr pitnpeatPeat Burn (Kirkcudbrightshire); Peathill (Fife); Peatrig Hill (Midlothian); Peatrig (Kirkcudbrightshire); Peat Inn (Fife); Peat Knowes (Kirkcudbrightshire); Peat Law (Midlothian); Peat Hass (Kirkcudbrightshire)petemyre (of Dontarvy) 1431; Peitrig 1535; Peithill Knoll 1549-50; Peithill Syik 1549-50; Peitaker 1562-62peat n1; S2 peat n1pete, peit n1
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
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
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

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.)