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 FormEtymologyPoSDefinition Modern ExamplesHistorical EvidenceSND LinkDOST LinkNotes
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
kirkkyrkON kirkja, OE kirkena churchNew Kirk (Aberdeenshire); Hobkirk (Roxburghshire); Ladykirk (Berwickshire); Kirk o' Field (Midllothian]; Kirkford (Fife); Kirkmuir (Kirkcudbrightshire)Kyrckeburne c1160; Selekirke 1165-1214; Askirke 1214-49; Kyrkhop a1300kirk n1; S1 kirk n1; S2 kirk n1kirk n; ADDS kirk n
cairtercarter, karterME cartarena carterCarterhaugh (Angus, Selkirkshire); Carter Bar (Roxburghshire); Carterhope Burn (Peeblesshire); Carter Fell (Roxburghshire)Carterford c1250; Cartergate c1250; Cartarehauch 1489-90; Carteryards 1657cairter ncartar(e, carter n1; karter, kairter, nSee also SND S1 cadger n
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
burnburnOE burnana brook or stream; water (from a fountain or well)Blackburn (West Lothian); Springburn (Glasgow); Netherburn (South Lanarkshire); Burn of Cruan (Orkney); Den Burn (Aberdeenshire); Burnbank (North Lanarkshire); Millburn (Inverness); Burn of Whilk (Caithness); Dryburn (Morayshire); Burnside (Fife); Burnfoot (Wigtownshire)Merburne c1170; Triernburn c1200; Bradestrothirburne c1220; Kyrkeburne 1229; le Burnhedis 1505; Burneside 1548burn n; S1 burn n; S2 burn nburn nSee also SND brin n1
brig, briggbrigOE brycg, ON bryggjana bridge; a reef, a long low ridge of sea-rocks; a large flat stone, a flagstoneBlackbriggs (Ayrshire, Kirkcudbrightshire); Birgham (Berwickshire); Gorebridge (Edinburgh); The Brig o Ballater; (Abderdeenshire); Brighouse (Kirkcudbrightshire); Brig o' Doon (Ayrshire); Fisherbriggs (Aberdeenshire); Briggait (Glasgow); Brigstanes (Kincardineshire); Stonebriggs (Aberdeenshire)Prestesbrige c1150; Hatherbrig c1190; Risibrigg c1240; Briggate c1266; Brighous 1337; Bryghend 1359brig n1; S1 brig n1; S2 brig n1brig, bryg 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
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
bernbern, barnOE berernna barnBarnhill (Glasgow, Inverness) Kingsbarns (Fife); West Barns (East Lothian); Barnhead (Angus); Barnton (Edinburgh); Barn Hills (Wigtownshire); Barns Ness (East Lothian); Barns of Craig (Angus)Northbernis 1328; Suthbarne 1373; Berntoun 1390-1406; le Barnis 1490; bornestede 1560S1 bern n2; S2 bern n2bern n1; barn, barne n; ADDS barn n; born(e n
bankbankON bakki, *banki, ME bankena bank, a river bank; a raised shelf or ridge of ground; steep cliffs or precipitous rocks (along the coast); a hill slope; a foot-path or walk; the place in a moss from which peats are cut; the boundary line of a farmClydebank (Dunbartonshire); Bankfoot (Perthshire); Scrogbank (Selkirkshire); Meadowbank (Edinburgh); Springbank (Wigtownshire); Bankend (Dumfriesshire); Greenbank (Aberdeenshire); Nessbank (Inverness)Byrkebanke 13thC; Brerybankes 1367; Bankhede 1519; Bankend 1546bank n2, S1 bank n2, bakk n1bank n1
fellfellON fjallna (rocky) hill, a mountain; a tract of hill-moorCampsie Fells (Stirlingshire); Long Fell (Kirkcudbrightshire); Fellcleugh (Berwickshire); Round Fell (Kirkcudbrightshire); Dodd Fell (Roxburghshire); Fell Hill (Wigtownshire); Dryden Fell (Roxburghshire); Abbey Fell (Kirkcudbrightshire); Fellend (Dumfriesshire); Fell of Fleet (Kirkcudbrightshire); Capell Fell (Dumfriesshire); Thorter Fell (Kirkcudbrightshire)Erniltoun fell 1654; Ellemsyde of Felcleuch 1665; Campsie Fells 1795; Fell of Fleet 1832fell n2 fell n1
cleugh, cleuchcleuchOE *clōhna (narrow) gorge or ravine with steep rocky sides, usually the course of a stream; the steep side of a ravine, a cliff; a crag, a rockByrecleugh (Berwickshire); Hare Cleugh (East Lothian); Cleugh Hill (Wigtownshire); Buccleuch (Selkirkshire); The Cleuch (Midlothian); Point of the Cleugh (Wigtownshire)Edwardes-cloch c1190; Ernesclucht c1350; Westircluch-heuyd c1370; Corsclewch 1456cleugh, cleuch n; S2 cleugh ncleuch n
hirsthirstOE hyrstna (hard or barren) hillock, knoll or ridge; the summit of a rocky hill; a bank of sand, shingle or gravel in a river or harbourBrocklehirst (Dumfriesshire); Brackenhirst (North Lanarkshire); Ferniehirst (Midlothian, Roxburghshire); Sandy Hirst (East Lothian); South Nettlehirst (Ayrshire)de Twa Hullyrhyrstis 1456; Brakanhirst 1475; Farnihirst 1524-25; Fairnyhirst 1599hirst nhirst, hyrst n1
wedderwedderOE weðerna (castrated) male sheepWedderlie (Berwickshire); Weddersbie (Fife); Wether Law (Berwickshire); Wedder Hill (Ayrshire); Wedderlairs (Berwickshire); Wedderburn (Berwickshire)Wedyrburne 1198-1214; Wederleye c1250; Wedderlee 1494; Weddergang 1609 (1610); Wetherlairis 1628wedder nweddir, woddir, wadder, wether n2
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
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

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.)