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 FormEtymologyPoSDefinitionModern Examples Historical EvidenceSND LinkDOST LinkNotes
hause, hasshalsOE hals, ON halsna neck; a defile, a narrow passage between hills, the head of a pass; a narrow neck of water; a narrow connecting ridge between two heights on a watershed’Packman's Hass (Peeblesshire); Broomhass (Kirkcudbrightshire); Hass o' Ramna Geo (Orkney); Watchy Hass (Dumfriesshire); Peat Hass (Kirkcudbrightshire); The Hawse (Edinburgh); Mennock Hass (Dumfriesshire); Dub of Hass (Kirkcudbrightshire); West Hass (Orkney); Hass (Kirkcudbrightshire); Guile Hass (Dumfriesshire); Hause Burn (Kirkcudbrightshire)Cairn-brae-hawse 1822; Hankhass 1832; The Hawse 1852; Broomhass 1852; Mennock-hass 1874hause n; S2 hause nhals n; ADDS hals n
otter, witterotterOE oternan otterOtter Isle (Kirkcudbrightshire); Otter Burn (Midlothian, Roxburghshire); Otter Strand (Kirkcudbrightshire); Otters Pool (Orkney); Otter Ayre (Shetland)Otyrburn a1300; Otirburne 1373; Otterburne 1593; Oatters Pool 1765otter n; witter n4otter n, notyr n
orchard, wortchatorchatOE ortgeardnan enclosure for the cultivation of fruit-treesOrchardton (Kirkcudbrightshire); Orchardfield (Fife); Orchardhead (Stirlingshire); Lugton Orchard (Midlothian); Orchard (Roxburghshire, Dumfriesshire); Orchard Rig (Peeblesshire)Orchidiardstrother c1320; Orchardcroft 1451; Orchardfelde 1470; the orchet of Carslo 1498-99; Orchartfeild 1522; Boyellis hortchet 1571; Oarchyeardtoune 1694wortchat norchard n; orchat n
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
quarter, wharterquarterOF quartier, quarterna fourth part (of a territory, sherrifdom, burgh, estate or land)North Quarter (Fife); Millquarter (Kirkcudbrightshire); Forresterquarter (Stirlingshire); South Quarter (Fife); Milnquarter (Stirlingshire); Quarterland (Kirkcudbrightshire); Westquarter (Stirlingshire); Quarter Wood (Peeblesshire)le Quarter 1512; Wol-Quarter 1620; Mayne-Quarter 1620; Wastquarter 1631quarter n; S1 quarter n; S2 quarter n; wharter nquarter, quartar(e nCompare SND corter n and SND S2 corter n
wallwellOE wælla, wiellana natural spring of water which forms a pool or spring; a source of water with medicinal, miraculous or supernatural properties, a holy well; a tide race in the seaNinewells (Dundee); Wellheads (Banffshirre); Craigswalls (Berwickshire); Drywells (Banffshire); Mungo's Walls (Berwickshire); Walton (Fife); St Mungo's Well (Aberdeenshire); Billerwell (Roxburghshire); Black Walls (Fife); Springwells (Banffshire); Blindwells (Angus)Macchuswel 1159; Kalde Welle c1190; Kersewelle 1195; Blynd Wollis 1203-22; Creswel 1214-49; Caldwell 1294wall n; S2 wall nwel(l, wal(l, wol(l n
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
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
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
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
nessnesON nes, OE næs(s)na promontory or headlandNess 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 1330ness n; S2 ness nnes, nesse n
muirmureOE mōrnbarren open country, uncultivated heathery land considered part of an estate; a tract or expanse of heath; a peat moor; a tract of unenclosed common land held by a town or village; a market greenMuirhouse (Edinburgh); Nethermuir (Ayrshire); Muircroft (Argyllshire); Lammermuir (Berwickshire); Muiredge (Fife); Haughmuir (Angus); Clynelish Muir (Sutherland); Skaithmuir (Berwickshire); Muirhead (Fife)Morthuweit a1153; Inter Lambremor et Tay 1153; De mora de Edenham 1160; Pilemor c1170muir n, S2 muir nmure, muir, mor(e, moir nSee also DOST mur(e)-, muirland n
mossmosOE mosna marsh, a bog, a tract of soft wet ground; a bog from which peats are dug, a moorland on an estate allocated to the tenants for cutting fuelMosspark (Glasgow); Moss of Cruan (Orkney); Moss of Wester (Caithness); Moss Croft (Aberdeenshire); Red Moss (Caithness); Hallmoss (Aberdeenshire)Mosplat c 1220; Byermos 1219-33; Grenemos c1300-30; Ridhalchis Mowse 1475moss n; S2 moss nmos n
miltonmilntounOE myln + tūnnthe buildings comprising a mill; the farm adjacent to a mill and tenanted by the miller; a hamlet which has grown up around a millMilton of Campsie (Dunbartonshire); Milton of Balgonie (Fife); Waulkmilton (Stirlingshire); Milton of Whitehouse (Aberdeenshire); Milton of Tullich (Aberdeenshire); Milltown of Phingask (Aberdeenshire); Milton (Dumfriesshire, Fife, Glasgow, Inverness); Miltongreen (Fife); Milton of Ogilvie (Angus); Milton of Leyes (Inverness)milnetun 13thC; Mylnetoun c1240; myltoune of Concragy 1491; myllnetoun of Dunblane 1601; milltun of Lausie 1708mill nmiln-toun, myltoune 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
heuch, heughheuchOE hōhna crag or precipice, a cliff or steep bank (overhanging a river or the sea); a glen or ravine with steep overhanging sides; (the shaft of) a pit or mine; (the steep face of) a quarryMillheugh (South Lanarkshire); Underheugh (Renfrewshire); Redheugh (Ayrshire, Roxburghshire); Ravensheugh Sands (East Lothian); Slateheugh (Midlothian); Earnsheugh (Aberdeenshire); Slack Heugh (Kirkcudbrightshire); Fastheugh (Selkirkshire); Clachan Heughs (Wigtownshire); Coalheugh Well (Ross and Cromarty); Redheughs (Midlothian); Heugh Farm (East Lothian); Port Mona Heughs (Wigtownshire)Redhuche 1388; Reidhewis 1390-1406; Reidheuchis 1528; Carisheughe 1590heuch nheuch, hewch n; huycheSee also DOST col(e-heuch n
millmiln, mylneOE mylnna mill, a corn-millMillburn (Inverness); Mill of Gairn (Aberdeenshire); Waulkmill (Morayshire); Kingsmills (Inverness); Milnquarter (Stirlingshire); Loch Mill (West Lothian); Little Mill (Aberdeenshire); Mill Knowe (Argyllshire); Milnthird (Kirkcudbrightshire)mulneburne 1165-1214; Milnehalech c 1200; milnecroft 1227; Le mylne crofte 1428; the mylne of Kynnabir 1467mill n; S1 millnmiln, mill n
middenmiddin, middingON *myki-dyngja, ME myddingna dunghill, a refuse heap; a boggy placeMidden Craig (Kirkcudbrightshire); Black Midden (Aberdeenshire); The Middens (Fife); Carsehope Middens (South Lanarkshire)Blakmiddingis 1508; Mydynnes 1517; Middendub 1781; The Middens 1855 (OS Fife v3)midden n, S1 midden n, S2 midden nmid(d)in(g n
meedowmedowOE mǣdwena meadow, (marshy) grassland which is mown for use as hayMeadowfield (Edinburgh); Greenmeadow (Shetland); Meadowgreens (Stirlingshire); Broadmeadows (Selkirkshire); Meadowbank (Edinburgh); Fostermeadow (Dumfriesshire); Meadowhead (Fife); The Meadows (Edinburgh)Gretrigesmedue c1170; Meduflat a1200; Brademedue 1200-02; Hollemedu a1250; medowschott of Restalrig 1579; The Medowburne 1632meedow nmedow nSee also DOST medow-skift n and medow-ward n
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
mouthmouth, mowOE mūðana mouth; the mouth, outfall or lower end of a stream, river, estuary, or inland sea; the entrance to a harbourLossiemouth (Morayshire); Grangemouth (Stirlingshire); Powmouth (Angus); Eyemouth (Berwickshire); Burnmouth (Angus, Ayrshire); Fordmouth (Angus)Cramesmude 1097-1107; Brockesmuth 1165-1214; Twedemud 1217-27; Salwildmuthe 1214-49mouth n; S1 mouth n; S2 mouth nmouth n; mow n2
fauldfaldOE falodnan enclosure for animals; an enclosed piece of ground used for cultivation, a small field; the part of the outfield which was manured by folding cattle upon itLochfauld (Dunbartonshire) Whitefauld (Stirlingshire); Edgefauld Road (Glasgow); Langfaulds (Dunbartonshire); Clayfaulds (Stirlingshire); Muiryfaulds (Angus); Linen Faulds (West Lothian); Scabbit Fauld (Aberdeenshire); Whitefaulds (Ayrshire); Bowriefauld (Angus)Kochilfaulde 1407; Morefaulde 1407; the faldis of Cabrastone 1595-96; Firth Faldis 1611fauld n2; S2 fauld n2; fold n; S1 fold nfald, fauld n1See also SNDS barnfauld n and DOST stand fa(u)ld n, shepe-fald n, fald-dyke n, fold-dyke n, nowt-fald n
linnlinnOE hlynn, Gael linn(e)na waterfall, a cateract; a precipice, ravine, a deep narrow gorge; a pool in a river; a pool below a waterfallLinn o' Dee (Aberdeenshire); Lin Mill (Stirlingshire); Lindean (Selkirkshire); Linn of Muick (Aberdeenshire); Colislinn (Roxburghshire); Lynn (Fife); Bell's Linn (Roxburghshire); Linhouse (Midlothian)Lynden 1153-45; Lynnesden 1228; Clydis Lin 1649; Lintoun Linn 17thC; Corra Linn 1825linn n; S1 linn n; S2 linn nlin, linn(e, lyn(n n
linkslinkisOE hlincasnthe sandy undulating open ground covered with turf, bent grass or gorse along the sea shore on a flat part of the coast, often including sand-dunes (which is often common ground belonging to the nearest town)Links of Dunnet (Caithness); Linksfield (Aberdeen, Morayshire); Innes Links (Morayshire); Monifieth Links (Angus); Whitelinks (Aberdeenshire); Links Wood (Fife); Leith Links (Edinburgh); Links of Montrose (Angus)le lynkis de Leith 1453; le linkis de Dirltoun 1512; the eist and west linxis of Dunbar 1598-99; Leith linx 1673; Bruntsfield links 1684links n.pl.; S2 links n.pl.linkis, lynkis n. plu; ADDS linkis n. pluSee also SNDS1 links market
liggatliggatOE hlidgeatna self-closing gate, to prevent cattle from strayingLiggat Syke (West Lothian); Whinnieliggate (Kirkcudbrightshire); Liggatt Hill (Wigtownshire); Ludgate Lodge (Edinburgh); Liggat Cheek (Kirkcudbrightshire); Luggate Burn (East Lothian); Fumart Liggat (Kirkcudbrightshire); Doddiesliggat (Dumfriesshire); Red Liggat (Wigtownshire); Stubliggat (Kirkcudbrightshire)lidyate 1170; Lidgai 1540-41; Liggate 1746; Liggat Syke 1890liggat n; S2 liggat nliggat n; lidgait n; lidyate 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.)