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 Form||Older Scots Form||Etymology||PoS||Definition||Modern Examples||Historical Evidence||SND Link||DOST Link||Notes|
|carse||kerse, cars||uncertain||n||low and fertile land along the bank of a river||Carse of Gowrie (Perthshire); The Carse (Inverness); Kinneil Kerse (West Lothian); Carse of Raddery (Ross and Cromarty); Carse Knowe (West Lothian); Kerse (Ayrshire); East Kerse Mains (West Lothian); Carsethorn (Kirkcudbright); Carseburn (Angus)||Cars 1292; Ferycars 1359; Cars de Buthkener 1359; Kars 1390; Kers 1392; Kerse de Kambus 1451; Carse of Gowrie 1564; Kersheid 1641||carse n||cars, carse n; kars n; kers(e n1|
|voe||voe, wo||ON vágr||n||an inlet of the sea, a deep bay or long creek, a fjord||Voe 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 1887||voe n; S2 voe n||vo(e, wo n|
|taft||toft||ON topt, OE toft||n||a homestead (and the attached land), the site of a house or buildings||Taft (Orkney); Easter Tofts (South Lanarkshire); Upper Tofts (Roxburghshire); Tofthill Plantation (Fife); Edgerston Tofts (Roxburghshire); Greentoft (Orkney); Lower Toft (Roxburghshire)||Eghetofft 1214-49; Braytoftis 1248-9; Godemannistoft c.1235; Toftes 1296; Tofts 1622||taft n||toft n1||See also DOST Tofting, Thoftyn, n|
|star||star||ON stǫrr||n||a species of grass or sedge (growing on moorish or boggy ground); land covered in sedges||Starlaw (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 1618||star n2||star(e n3|
|slack||slak||ON slakki||n||hollow 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 floor||Slackhead (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 1723||slack n2; S2 slack n2||slak n1|
|skerrie||skerry||ON sker||n||a skerry, an isolated reef or rocky islet in the sea||Skerry of the Sound (Orkney); Covsea Skerries (Morayshire); Seal Skerry (Orkney); Skerries of Fuglaness (Shetland); Little Skerries (Morayshire)||Selchiskerrie; 1634; Skerrie of Burrafirth 164; Selchskerrie 1655; Inner Skerry 1887||skerrie n; S2 skerrie n||skerry n||Compare DOST skelly n and SND skerrie n2; see also DOST skirrach n|
|seat||sete||ON sǽti||n||a high, saddle-shaped and conspicuous hill; a dwelling house, a country seat, a place of habitation||Arthur's Seat (Edinburgh); Earl's Seat (Stirlingshire); Foresterseat (Morayshire); St Arnold's Seat (Angus); Leven Seat (Midlothian); Mowat's Seat (Angus)||Kingesseteburne 1165-90; Pronewessete c1180; Keluesete 1165-1214; Kingessete c1200||seat n; S1 seat n||DOST sete, seit(e n|
|ness||nes||ON nes, OE næs(s)||n||a promontory or headland||Ness of Clousta (Shetland); Ness of Quoys (Caithness); Kirkness (Fife); Blackness (Dundee); Ness of Culsetter (Shetland); Bo'Ness (West Lothian); Ness of Burravoe (Shetland); Bridgeness (West Lothian); Scurdie Ness (Angus)||le nesse 1150; le Nys 1292; Blaknis 1330; Blacnes 1330||ness n; S2 ness n||nes, nesse n|
|mire||myre||ON mýrr, ME mire||n||a piece of swampy ground, a bog, a morass; a peat bog||Craigmire (Aberdeenshire); Myreside (Angus, East Lothian, Moray); Black Myre (Aberdeenshire); Halymyres (Kincardinechaire); Hartwoodmyres (Selkirkshire); Whitemyres (Aberdeen); Greenmyre (Aberdeenshire); Myreton (Angus)||Wytteriggemyre c1200; Falumireside 13thC; Seggymir 1302; Hwytemyr c1320; Red(e)myre 1348; ly Futyis myre 1463||mire n1||myr(e, mir(e n|
|quoy||quy||ON kví||n||a piece of land (originally part of the common pasture) which had been enclosed and cultivated as part of a farm’||Quoy Sinclair (Orkney); Quoys of Reiss (Caithness); Mossquoy (Orkney); Quoy Park (Orkney); Quoyhenry (Orkney)||Sanct Margarettis quoy 1591; quoygrahame 1634; St Katharein's quoyes 1706; Castle quoy 1766||quoy n; S1 quoy n||quoy n2; quy, qui n2||See also DOST quyland n and quoyland n|
|kirkton||kirktoun||ON kirkja, OE kirke + OE tūn||n||a 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 church||Kirkton 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 1403||kirk n1; S2 kirk n1||kirk-, kyrktoun n||See also DOST kirk-clachan n|
|kirk||kyrk||ON kirkja, OE kirke||n||a church||New Kirk (Aberdeenshire); Hobkirk (Roxburghshire); Ladykirk (Berwickshire); Kirk o' Field (Midllothian]; Kirkford (Fife); Kirkmuir (Kirkcudbrightshire)||Kyrckeburne c1160; Selekirke 1165-1214; Askirke 1214-49; Kyrkhop a1300||kirk n1; S1 kirk n1; S2 kirk n1||kirk n; ADDS kirk n|
|wham||quhawme||ON hvammr||n||a dale or valley, a broad hollow among hills (with a stream), a little glen; a hollow piece of ground (in a field), a depression||The Whaum (St Andrews); Wham Park (Stirlingshire); Whoam Park (West Lothian); Whoam Quarry (West Lothian)||Quhawmes 1594; wester quhawme 1635; Whalmfoot 1635-6; Sandy Wham 1773||wham n1||quhawme n|
|rig, rigg||ryg||ON hryggr, OE hrycg||n||a ridge of high ground, a long narrow hill, a hill-crest; a strip of ploughed land (raised in the middle and sloping towards the sides), a measure of land; a strip of land leased for building in a Scottish burgh (usually with a narrow street frontage and a considerable extension backwards); a chain of hills, rocks or islands||Broomrigg (Dumfriesshire); Rigghouse (West Lothian); Rigghead (Dumfriesshire); Oatrigg (West Lothian)||Gret rigesmedue c1170; Todholerig 1165-82; Mosiburnerig 1195-96; Burnerig 1165-1214||rig n1; S1 rig n1; S2 rig n1||rig, ryg(g n|
|hope (2), hoob||hope||ON hóp||n||a small bay or haven||St Margaret's Hope (Fife, Orkney); The Houb (Shetland); Chalmers Hope (Orkney); St Andrews Hope (Fife); Houb of Scatsta (Shetland); Pan Hope (Orkney)||Lovnan houp 17thC; St Margaret’s Hope a1688; Kirk-hope a1688; North-hope 1700; Pan Houp 1795||hope n2; hoob n||hope, houp n5||See also SND ob n|
|holm (2)||holm||ON holmr||n||an islet, a small (grassy) island (in a loch or off a larger island) often used for pasturage||Holm 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 1887||holm n; S1 holm n||holm n; ADDS holm n||See also DOST ting holm n|
|lowp||lowp, loup||ON hlaup||n||a leap, a jumping place, a site ascribed to a legendary leap; a shelf in a river bed over which the water cascades or by which fish may ascend by leaping, a waterfall||Buck Loup (Wigownshire); Fairy Loup (Dumfriesshire); Downie's Loup (Stirlingshire); Loup of Kilfeddar (Wigtownshire); Loup of Fintry (Stirlingshire); Matty's Loup (Wigtownshire); Berry's Loup (Aberdeenshire); Loups of Penwhirn (Wigtownshire); White Lairds Loup (Wigtownshire)||Maiden's loup 1629; Wallace loup 1638; the Loups of Kenny 1795; The Strait-loup 1856||lowp n; S2 lowp n||lowp, loup n1; lope, loip n|
|haining||haning||ON hegning, ME haining||n||a fence, hedge or wall forming the boundary of an enclosure; a piece or stretch of ground enclosed in this way (originally to protect a hay crop from cattle)||The Haining (Selkirkshire); Haining (Stirlingshire); North Haining Farm (West Lothian); Haining Brae (Edinburgh); Haining Valley (Stirlingshire); Haining Moss (Selkirkshire)||le Hayning 1298-99; Hayny[n]gschaw 1348; Hayninghil 1413; Haynyng 1423; haningis of Vrie 1636||hain v; S1 hain v; S2 hain v||haining, haning vbl n|
|grain||grain||ON grein||n||the branch or fork of a stream or river, an arm of the sea; a branch of a valley, a tributary valley; the branch of a tree||Crooked Grain (Aberdeenshire); Grains of Fetteresso (Kincardineshire); Black Grain (Selkirkshire); Grains of Tanar (Abderdeenshire); Haregrain (Roxburghshire); East Grain (Aberdeenshire); Grains (Dumfriesshire); The Grains (Abderdeenshire); Fernie Grain (Midlothian); Burngrains (Dumfriesshire); Wolf Grain (Aberdeenshire); Tod Grain (Dumfriesshire); Burn Grains (Kirkcudbrightshire)||Blakgrane 1456; Fauhopgranys 1456; Blakgrane 1510; Graines 1635||grain n2||grain(e, grane n2|
|geo||geo||ON gjá||n||a creek or inlet of the sea with steep rocky sides, a cleft with deep water among rocks; a ravine||Geo of the Ward (Shetland); Peat Geo (Orkney); Millburn Geo (Shetland); Geo of Dykesend (Orkney); Geo of Sclaites (Caithness); Geo of Pass (Orkney); Geo of Markamouth (Shetland)||the geo of Nes 1617; the gew callit Howelay 1636; the Wolf's geo 1795; Mill-gue 1894||geo n||geo, gio, gew n||Compare SND duo n|
|gill||gil||ON gil||n||a narrow valley with steep, rocky sides; a ravine, a gully||Raegill (Dumfriesshire); Stanygill (Roxburghshire); Haregills (Dumfriesshire); Bowman's Gill (Midlothian); Howgill (Dumfriesshire)||Rauengille a1238; Smalgyllis 1373; Cowsowgill 1481-82; Hairgills 1637||gill n2; S1 gill n2; S2 gill n2||gil(l, gyll n1|
|garth||garth||ON garðr||n||an enclosure, yard, a small patch of enclosed cultivated ground, enclosed pasture (and the house attached to it); a shallow part or stretch of a river which may be used as a ford||Applegarth (Dumfriesshire); Garthdee (Aberdeenshire); Fairgirth (Wigtownshire); Auldgirth (Dumfriesshire); Martin Girth (Kirkcudbrightshire); Inchgarth (Aberdeenshire)||Apilgarth 1361; Le fischegarth de Esk 1492; Apilgirth 1505; Algarth 1531||garth n; S1 garth n; S2 garth n||garth n||See also DOST fisch-garth n|
|fell||fell||ON fjall||n||a (rocky) hill, a mountain; a tract of hill-moor||Campsie 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 1832||fell n2||fell n1|
|air, ayre, ire||ayr||ON eyrr||n||a gravelly beach, a gravel bank, a bed of gravel||Ayre of Breiwick (Shetland); Woodcock Air (Dumfriesshire); Ayre of Deepdale (Shetland); Ayre of Cara (Orkney); Ayre Dyke (Shetland); Ayre of Westermill (Orkney)||Wodecok Heyr 1333-34; Wodecokheir 1360; the ayr of Kyrkwall 1539; Stour-air 1809||air n4; ire n2||ayr n|
|brae||bra, bray||ON brá, ME bra||n||the steep or sloping bank of a river or lake or seashore, a steep slope rising from water; a bank or stretch of ground rising with a fairly steep slope, the face of a hill; a road which has a steep gradient; an upland, mountainous district||Braes of Enzie (Morayshire); Stephen's Brae (Inverness); Ethie Brae (Perthshire); Pan Braes (West Lothian); Braehead (Renfrewshire); Links Brae (West Lothian); Brae of Yetts (Dunbartonshire); Willowbrae (Edinburgh); Braeside (Stirling)||le Bra de Bochquhopill 1451; bra of Cammys 1528; Hammildone bray 1556; bra of Mar 1587; South Bray 1592||brae, bray(e), brea n1; S1 brae n1; S2 brae n2||bra, bray, brae n||See also DOST bra-hede n|
Glossary compiled by Dr Alison Grant of Scottish Language Dictionaries and the Scottish Place-Name Society.
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.)