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 FormEtymologyPoS DefinitionModern ExamplesHistorical EvidenceSND LinkDOST LinkNotes
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
nethernether, nedderOE neoþerraalower, under; the lower-sited of two places (of the same name)Netherglen (Morayshire); Nethergate (Dundee); Netherburn (South Lanarkshire); Nether Pitcastle (Perthshire); Netherthird (Kirkcudbright); Netherton of Pittendrum (Aberdeenshire); Netherbyre (Morayshire); Netherwood (Dunbartonshire)Nethirmerkhill 1363; Nethir Lebertoun 1387; Nethirkirkgate 1407; Nedyr Kyrk gate 1453; Neddirardis 1458; Nedder Pollok 1494-5nether adjnether, nather a1; ned(d)er a
northnorthOE norþasituated in the north, northerlyNorthfaulds (South Lanarkshire); North Haven (Aberdeenshire); North Berwick (Berwickshire); North Queensferry (Fife); North Shiel (West Lothian); North Mains (Angus); Norton (Midlothian); North Kessock (Ross and Cromarty); North Grain (Angus)Northberwic c1211; Northflat 13thC; Northlandis 1306; Northbarnis 1328; Norbernys 1358; Northgat 1400north adj; S2 north adjnorth adj
reidrede, ridOE rēadared or reddish in colourRedhouse (Fife); Redhall (Midlothian); Redpath (Berwickshire); Red Road (Glasgow); Redkirk (Dumfriesshire); Redwells (Fife); Red Liggat (Wigtownshire); Redheugh (Ayrshire, Roxburghshire); Red Moss (Caithness); Redhall (Dumfriesshire)Redford 12thC; Redinch 1198-9; Reidfurde 1214-29; Rydnure 1348; Ridhalchis Mowse 1475reid adj; S1 reid adj; S2 reid adjred(e, reid adj; rid, redd(e adj
sandysandyOE sandigaconsisting of, or covered in sand; sandySandy Hirst (East Lothian); Sandyford (Dunbartonshire); Sandystones (Roxburghshire); Sandyhill (Fife); Sandy Knowes (North Lanarkshire); Sandilands (South Lanarkshire); Sandydub (Fife)Sandilandis 1348; Sandystanis 1499-1500; Sande Knowis 1550; Sandieburne 1632sandy adjsandy adj; S2 sandy adj
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
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
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
wast, westwest, wastOE westasituated in, or belonging to, the west; westerlyWest Craigs (West Lothian); West Barns (East Lothian); West Inch (Aberdeenshire); Westraw (South Lanarkshire); West Grange (Stirling); West Haven (Aberdeenshire); Westhill (Inverness)Westfulhope 1165-1214; Westlillisclive 1214-49; Westfeld 1294; Wasthall 1544wast adj; S2 wast adjwest, wast adjSee also DOST west side n and DOST west end n
waster, westerwesterOE westerraawestern, lying to the west; the more westerly of two places (in contrast with easter)Wester Hailes (Edinburgh); Westerton (Angus, Glasgow); Wester Ross (Ross and Cromarty); Westerwood (Dunbartonshire); Wester Inshes (Inverness); Wester Pitlour (Fife); Wester Causewayend (Midlothian)Westercaledoure 1170-72; Westircarne 13thC; Wastirker 1309; Vaster Leochel 1524-25waster awester a; ouster a
waterywattiryOE wæterigafull of water, well watered, wateryEaster Watery Knowe (Angus); Wester Watery Knowe (Angus); Wateryslack (Aberdeenshire); Waterybutts (Perthshire)Wattridike c1230; Watryraw 1405; Wetterybuttis 1567; Watrielawes 1664water n; S1 water n; S2 water nwattiry, wat(t)(e)ry adj
weet, watweitOE wǣt, ON vátrawet, boggy, waterloggedWeetfoot Bog (Berwickshire); Weetfit (Fife); Wetlands (Aberdeenshire); Wetshaw (Kincardineshire); Witholm (Midlothian)Weteflatwel 1300-31; Weitschaw 1540; Weitlandis 1552-3; Vitfute 1567; Weetlands 1687weet adj; S2 weet adj; wat adjweit adj
whinniewhinnieME whinnyacovered with whinsWhinnieliggate (Kirkcudbrightshire); Whinnyfold (Aberdeenshire); Whinny Hill (Edinburgh); Whinnie Knowes (Wigtownshire); Whinnyhall (Fife); Whinnydrums (Angus); Whinny Brae (Midlothian); Whinnyrig (Dumfriesshire)Whinnie-Know 1652; Whinnie Grain 1700; the whinnie park 1715; Whinny Hill 1896whin n2whinnie adj
white, fitequhiteOE hwītawhite; (of arable land) fallow, unploughed; (of hill land) covered with bent grass rather than bracken or heatherWhitelinks (Aberdeenshire); Whiteinch (Glasgow); Whitebaulks (West Lothian); Whitehill (Glasgow, Wigtownshire); Whitekirk (East Lothian); Whitehill (Argyllshire); Whitefaulds (Ayrshire); White Craig (Stirlingshire)Wythelawe1147-52; Vithemer c1150; Witehou c1165; Whiteslade 1165-85; Whiteshopes c1200white adj; S1 white adj; S2 white adj; fite adj; S1 fite adjwhit(e, whyt adj; quhite adj; fyte a
windywyndyOE windigaexposed to the wind, frequently windyWindyhill (Dunbartonshire); Windyrise (Ayrshire); Windie Edge (North Lanarkshire); Windyshields (South Lanarkshire); Windy Yett (Stirlingshire); Windywa's (West Lothian); Windy Mill (Angus); Windydoors (Midlothian)Windeshoure 1165-1214; windilawes 1260-8; Windiduris 13thC; Wynderigz 1327-28; Wyndiduris 1456; Wyndeedge 1561windy adjwyndy, -ie adj

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.)