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
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
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
stoddert, strothersrotherOE *strōðer, ME strotherna marshy placeStockstrother (Roxburghshire); Bellstruther (Berwickshire); Yellowstruther (Midlothian); Williestrother Loch (Roxburghshire); Westruther (Berwickshire); Strutherhill (South Lanarkshire)Harastrodar a1159; Kyrnestroder c1160; Strotherflat 13thC; Westsrother c1300stoddert nstrother nDodgy?
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
kamekameOE cambna long, narrow, steep-sided mound or ridge, a hill-ridge; a small peninsula, a narrow isthmusKame of Isbister (Shetland); Kaimflat (Roxburghshire); Kame of Hoy (Orkney); Easter Kame (Shetland); Kaimes (Fife); Kaimhill (Aberdeenshire); Kaim Head (Edinburgh); Kaimend (Roxburghshire); Kame of Riven Noup (Shetland)Camis 1533; Kems 1654; Kaims Hill 1773; Kaimes 1781kame n; S1 kame n; S2 kame nkame n; came n; kem, keme n
lowplowp, loupON hlaupna 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 waterfallBuck 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 1856lowp n; S2 lowp nlowp, loup n1; lope, loip n
waterwattir, watterOE wæterna large stream (between a burn and a river in size), a tributary of a river; a river valley; a lake, a sheet of waterHowe Water (Aberdeenshire); Water of Luce (Wigtownshire); Whiteadder Water (Berwickshire); Water of Leith (Edinburgh); Markie Water (Aberdeenshire); Waterside (Dumfriesshire, Wigtownshire); Eye Water (Berwickshire); Water of Tarf (Angus)Blacwater 13thC; Watirtoun 1342; watir of Dee 15thC; Wattirheid 1649water n; S1 water n; S2 water nwa(t)tir n
hahallOE heall, hallna large and spacious building, the residence of a magnate; a farm-house (occupied by the farmer himself rather than the cottars)Sandyha (Orkney); Temple Hall (Berwickshire); Gallowha (Orkney); Clatterha (Angus); Thornyhaw (Fife); Redhall (Dumfriesshire, Midlothian); Cradlehall (Inverness); Hallyards (Midlothian)Blachall 1329; Halton 1345-50; Tempilishalle 1367; Haw off Lythquow 1489ha n; S1 ha n; S2 ha nhall, haw n; ADDS hall nSee also DOST hal(l)is n and halis, hailis n1
lamblamOE lambna lamb, a young sheepLambhill (Glasgow); Lambden (Berwickshire); Lamblair Edge (Roxburghshire); Lamb Island (Perthshire); Lamb Rig (Dumfriesshire); (The) Lamb (Firth of Forth); Lamblair Hill (Roxburghshire); Lamblair Knowe (Dumfriesshire)Lambremore c1160; Lambedene 1214-49; Lambhilles 1666; Lamb-Croft 1667lamb n1lam, lamb(e n
kingkingOE cyningna king, the kingKingsknowe (Edinburgh); King's Park (Stirling); Kingsmills (Inverness); Kingslinks (Aberdeen); Kingsbarns (Fife); Kingsmuir (Angus); Kingston Grange (Midlothian)Kingeswell c1200; Kingessete c1200; Kyngeston 1221; Kynggesside a1300; Kynggewell a1300; Kyngestrete c1330king n; S1 king n; S2 king nking n; ADDS king n
killkill, kilneOE cylenena kiln; a kiln-shaped chasm in the rocks (linked to the sea by a tunnel)Kiln Knowe (Kirkcudbrightshire); Kilnhill (Angus, South Lanarkshire); Kiln Rocks (Fife); Kiln Croft (Kirkcudbrightshire); Kill Burn (Midlothian); Kiln Plantation (Kirkcudbrightshire); Kilburns (Fife); Halflawkiln (Midlothian); Kiln Strand (Kirkcudbrightshire)the Kill-croft 1627; Halfflakill 1627; Lilmkiln 1773; Halfla Kill 1839kill n1; S2 kill n1kill n1; kiln(e n; ADDS kiln(e n
hunterhuntarOE huntana huntsman, a hunterHunterland (Midlothian); Hunters Hill (Kirkcudbrightshire); Hunterfield (Midlothian); Hunter Hill (Selkirkshire); Hunterlees (South Lanarkshire)Hunterisford c1220; Ormehunterisland 1359; Hunterhill 1541; Huntarseit 1543; Hunterland 1591hunt vhuntar, hunter n1
spitalspittalME spitelna hospice or shelter for travellers (in mountainous country); a house or place of refuge for the sick or destitute; land whose revenue supported a hospital; the hospital itselfSpital (Dunbartonshire); The Spittal Haugh (Aberdeenshire); Spittalburn (Angus); Spittal of Glenmuick (Aberdeenshire); Spittalrig (East Lothian); Spital Shore (Ross and Cromarty); Spittal (East Lothian); Port of Spittal (Wigtownshire)Spetelcrag 1208-14; Spyttalhillis 1310; Spittaltoun 1565-6; Spittellis Hospitell 1641; Spittall Haugh 1721spital nspit(t)al(l, spit(t)ell nSee also DOST hospitale n
tafttoftON topt, OE toftna homestead (and the attached land), the site of a house or buildingsTaft (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 1622taft ntoft n1See also DOST Tofting, Thoftyn, n
hollinholineOE holegnna holly bushHollandbush (Stirlingshire); Hollinhirst (Dumfriesshire); Hollin Burn (Aberdeenshire); Holland Isle (Kirkcudbrightshire); Hollings (Stirlingshire); Hollen Bush (Wigtownshire)Holenbus 1620; Hollinbusch 1644; Hollings 1742; Hollinheartston 1755hollin nholin(e, holyn(e n
den, deanden, deneOE denuna hollow with sloping sides (often with a rivulet), a narrow (wooded) ravine or valley, a dingleDen Burn (Aberdeenshire); Blakedean (Roxburghshire); Cardenden (Fife); Dean Village (Edinburgh); Denholm (Roxburghshire); Lambden (Berwickshire); Aikendean (Midlothian); Milldeans (Fife); Hassendean (Roxburghshire)Lummesdene c1100; Botheldene 1159; Ellesdene 1218; Strikerden 1275; Denside 1304den n1den n1; dene n1
glenglenGael glenn, gleannna hollow or valley (traversed by a stream or river); a steep narrow-sided valley; the mountain reaches of a mountain valley; a dell, a ravineGlenhead (Stirlingshire); The Great Glen (Inverness-shire); Glenburn (Fife, Renfrewshire); Glens of Foudland (Aberdeenshire); Rouken Glen (Glasgow); The Sma' Glen (Perthshire); The Fairy Glen (Ross and Cromarty)le Glen 1292; the Glen 1502; Glenshott 1656; Glenheid 1662; Glenhead 1665glen nglen n
swireswyreOE swīra, ON svírina hollow or declivity between hills (through which a road runs); a hollow or level place near the top of a hill; a neck (of land)Redeswire Fray (Roxburghshire); Roughsware (Midlothian); Swyre (Dumfriesshire); Sware Brae (Kirkcudbrightshire); Swire Knowe (Roxburghshire); Dewar Swire (Midlothian); Sware Burn (Dumfriesshire); Sware Head (Kirkcudbrightshire); Sware Knowe (Dumfriesshire); Swire Syke (Roxburghshire); Ludsgill Sware (Dumfriesshire)Hethouswyre 1214-49; Buchswyre 1327; Reid Swyre 1575; Hardhaugh swire c1800swire nswire, swyr(e n
hillhill, hyllOE hyllna hill or (low) mountain; a hillock, a mound; a common moor where rough grazing rights are enjoyed jointly by neighbouring farmers; a piece of rough moorland where peats are cut, a peat-mossKaim Hill (Ayrshire); Hill of Gairney (Aberdeenshire); Sighthill (Edinburgh, Glasgow); Kinnen Hill (West Lothian); Hillhead (Glasgow); Hill of the Taing (Shetland); Hillfoot (Dunbartonshire); Hilton (Inverness); Raehills (Dumfriesshire)Herishille a1166; Urilhille c1220; Lamby hill c1220; Buttiris hyll 1552hill n; S1 hill n; S2 hill nhill, hyll n; ADDS hill 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
hawkhauk, halkOE hafocna hawkHawkhill (Angus, Ayrshire, Fife); Hawkslaw (Berwickshire); Hawksnest (Roxburghshire); Halk Law (Midlothian); Hawknest Rig (Dumfriesshire); Hagbrae (Midlothian); Hawkshole (Dumfriesshire)Hawkeschaws c1320; Haucsland 1379; Haukheid 1405; Haukhirst 1457hawk nhawk, hauk n; halk n
hine, havenhane, havinOE hæfenna haven, a (natural) harbourEast Hain (Fife); Buckhine (Fife); Longhaven (Aberdeenshire); Broad Haven (Caithness); Sandhaven (Aberdeenshire); North Haven (Aberdeenshire); West Haven (Aberdeenshire)le Bellehauen 1369; the hayne of Wigtoun 1517; the hewin of Sterling 1598-99; Bucky-hine a1779hine nhavin, hevin, heavin n1; ADDS hane, hayne;Compare SND hive n and hythe n, and DOST (, hyve n
hive, hythehiveOE hӯðna harbour, a haven, a landing place, an inlet among rocksSteenhive (Kincardineshire); Redhythe (Morayshire); Thornyhive Bay (Kincardineshire); Cowhythe (Morayshire); Broad Hive (Aberdeenshire)Stain-hyve 1600; Salt-coat-hive c1680; Guthrie’s hyth 1723; Thorn-hive 1825hive n; hythe nhive, hyve nCompare SND hine n and DOST havin n1 and hane
air, ayre, ireayrON eyrrna gravelly beach, a gravel bank, a bed of gravelAyre 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 1809air n4; ire n2ayr n
loanloneOE lanena grassy strip leading to a pasture or open ground, beginning at or near a farm, village or burgh as a green where the cattle were milked; a cattle-track through arable land which links to common grazing; the part of a farm ground which leads to or adjoins the house; a street or roadway, a laneDobbie’s Loan (Glasgow); The Tinks’ Loan (St Andrews); Langloan (North Lanarkshire); Byresloan (Fife); Loan Knowes (Wigtownshire); Blackloanhead (Banffshire); Loanhead (Angus, Fife, Midlothian); Fairloans (Roxburghshire); Loanfoot (Fife); Loanburn (Kirkcudbrightshire)the lone of Alanhauch 1535-36; Brochtoun lon heid 1587; Dalry lone 1591; Carcart lone heid 1664loan n1; S2 loan n1lone n1Compare SND loanin n and DOST loning 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.)