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 ExamplesHistorical EvidenceSND LinkDOST LinkNotes
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
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
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
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
patterpottarOE potterena potter, a maker or vendor of potsPotter Row (Edinburgh); Potterhill (Ayrshire); Potterton (Aberdeenshire); Potterland (Kirkcudbrightshire); Potterston (Ayrshire)Pottermedow 1333; Pottartoune 1457; Pottarraw 1561; Potter raw a1568pot npottar n
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
peelpeleME pelena defensive palisade or fence of stakes, a stockade, ground enclosed by such; a small fortified or moated rectangular stone towerPeelrig (Berwickshire); Peelbraehope (Roxburghshire); Peelwalls (Berwickshire); Peelnick (Roxburghshire); Pilmuir (Berwickshire, Fife); Peel Hill (Selkirkshire)Pel de Lithcu 14thC; le Pele 1429; peile of Belsyis 1479; the peile of Knokschenoch 1528peel n4pele, peill n1
pikepykeOE pīc, ON píkna sharp pointed hill; a pointed pile of stones, a cairn; a pointed tip, a tapering horn-like projectionUnthank Pikes (Roxburghshire); Pikeham (Midlothian); Pike Hole (West Lothian); Pike Fell (Roxburghshire); Pikestone Rig (Selkirkshire)Pike 1785; Pyke 1801; Pike Fell 1832; Rone Fell 1832pike npik(e, pyk(e n1
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
priestprestOE prēostna priest, a clergyman of the Roman Catholic churchPriesthill (Glasgow); Prestwick (Ayrshire); Prieston (Roxburghshire); Priestfield (Angus); Priest's Well (Aberdeenshire); Priestside (Dumfriesshire); Preston (Kirkcudbrightshire, Midlothian); Priestlands (Kirkcudbrightshire); Priest's Knowe (Aberdeenshire)Prestbrige 1153-61; Preston 1165-1214; Prestmunethburne 1214-49; Prestfeld 1327priest n, S1 priest nprest(e n
puilpuleOE pōl, OE pyllna pool, a pond, a small expanse of standing water; a pool in a river; (in Shetland) a small marsh, a patch of swampy groundCockpool (Dumfriesshire); Boretree Pool (Kirkcudbrightshire); Piperpool (Fife); Alder Pool (Kirkcudbrightshire); Stirkpool (Dumfriesshire); Washing Pool (Kirkcudbrightshire)Hum Pulles 1198-1214; Blakepol c1190; le Pulle 1359; Sloypule 1456; the pwll of Monboy 1458; Foull Poull 1557-78puil n; S2 puil npule, puil(l 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
queen, wheenqueneOE cwēnna queen, the queenSouth Queensferry (West Lothian); North Queensferry (Fife); Queen's Park (Glasgow); Queenshaugh (Stirling); Queen's Seat (Fife)Qwenys-ferry c1420; le quenys Hauche 1457; Quenis fery1480; Queen's Seat 1773queen n; S2 queen n; wheen n2quen(e, quein n1
ra'en, ravenravinOE hræfn, ON hrafnna ravenRavenscraig (Aberdeenshire, Fife, North Lanarkshire); Ravensheugh Sands (East Lothian); Ravensneuk (Midlothian); Redden (Roxburghshire); Ravenshaugh Burn (Midlothian)Rauendenam c1140; Rauenesfen a1190; Rauengille a1238; Revenysden 1275ra'en nravin, rawin, revin n1
rae, rayra, roOE rānthe roe deerRaehills (Dumfriesshire); Raeshaw (Midlothian); Raeburn (Dumfriesshire); Rawburn (Berwickshire); Roebuck's Seat (Perthshire); Raegill (Dumfriesshire)Rasawe 1208; Le Raahill 1456; Raa loch 1510-11; Reyschaw 1627rae n1ra, ray n1; ro, roe n2
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
rig, riggrygON hryggr, OE hrycgna 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 islandsBroomrigg (Dumfriesshire); Rigghouse (West Lothian); Rigghead (Dumfriesshire); Oatrigg (West Lothian)Gret rigesmedue c1170; Todholerig 1165-82; Mosiburnerig 1195-96; Burnerig 1165-1214rig n1; S1 rig n1; S2 rig n1rig, ryg(g n
ringringOE hringna ring; a circular earthwork, a pre-historic hill-fort; a circle of standing stonesThe Ring of Brodgar (Orkney); St Bride's Ring (Angus); Ring (Fife); Ring Liggat (Kirkcudbrightshire); The Rings (Peeblesshire)Ringuude 1165-1214; Ryngwodfelde 14thC; Ringwoodfield 1664; Ringhill 1832ring n1; S2 ring n1ring n1; rang n
sand, saunsandOE sandnsand, sandy ground, the sea-shore, a beachSandend (Banffshire); Sandhead (Wigtownshire); Seton Sands (East Lothian); Sandgreen (Kirkcudbrightshire); Sands of Luce (Wigtownshire); Sand Brae (Aberdeenshire); Silver Sands (Morayshire); Sand Mill (Wigtownshire); Sands (Fife)Joymersandes c1240; Burch-in-the-sand la14thC; Sand halch 1435; Sandfurde 1449; the sandis of Mussilburghe 1561; sandhalff c1616sand n; S2 sand nsand n
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
scrog, scroggscrogME skroggnbrushwood or scrub, thickets of bushes or small trees; an area or piece of land covered with scrub or brushwood; a stunted or crooked bush or low tree, a stump or root of a tree, a crabapple treeScroghill (Aberdeenshire); Scrogs of Drumruck (Kirkcudbrightshire); Scroggs (Dumfriesshire); Scrogbank (Selkirkshire); Crossford Scroggs (Dumfriesshire)terram de Scrogges c1208; Scrogisston 1476; Scrogbank 1595; Priesthaugh Scrogg 1805scrog n1; S2 scrog n1; scrag nscrog(g, skrog(g n
seatseteON sǽtina high, saddle-shaped and conspicuous hill; a dwelling house, a country seat, a place of habitationArthur'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 c1200seat n; S1 seat nDOST sete, seit(e n
seggysegyME seggyadjsedgy, covered in or bordered with sedge or sedges; (marshy)Seggieden (Angus, Fife); Seggiecrook (Banffshire); Seggy Neuk (Kirkcudbrightshire); Seggiehill (Fife); Seggy Gut (Kirkcudbrightshire)Segyden 12thC; Seggymir 1302; Seggywellisheuid c1318; Segidene 1466seg n1; seggy adjseg(g)y adj
shankschankOE scangana downward spur or projection of a hill, a descending ridge which joins a hill summit to the plainShankfoot (Kirkcudbright); Shank (Midlothian); Shankend (Roxburghshire); Shank of Inchgrundle (Angus); Shank Cleugh (Midlothian); Meg's Shank (Dumfriesshire); Shankend Wood (Midlothian)Schanke c1320; Cammo Schaunkis 1507 Bowshank 1593; The Shankfot croft 1690shank ns(c)hank n
shawschawOE sceaga, scaga, ON skagina small (natural) wood, a copse, a thicket, a grove; a bank of narrow ground at the top which broadens out towards the footPollokshaws (Glasgow); Shawhead (North Lanarkshire); Shaw Brae (Kirkcudbrightshire); Kirkshaws (North Lanarkshire); Shaw Hill (Wigtownshire); Shaw Fell (Kirkcudbrightshire)Haresawes a1240; Crennescawe 1214-49; Swynschawis 1265; Langesawe 1294; Hawkeschaws 1315-21shaw n2s(c)haw n1

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.)