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 FormEtymologyPoS DefinitionModern ExamplesHistorical EvidenceSND LinkDOST LinkNotes
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
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
weelweilOE wǣlna deep pool in a river or a narrow part of an estuary or the sea; a whirlpoolBloody Wiel (Wigtownshire); Maxwellheugh (Roxburghshire); Reidweil (Kirkcudbrightshire); Cairdie Wiel (Wigtownshire); Scar Weil (Kirkcudbrightshire); Old Weal (Roxburghshire); Cantin Wiel (Wigtownshire)Macch'swel 1159; Sant Katrynis weill 1553; the guidwyffis weill 1586; Craigweill 1593weel n1weil(l, weel(l n
whamquhawmeON hvammrna dale or valley, a broad hollow among hills (with a stream), a little glen; a hollow piece of ground (in a field), a depressionThe Whaum (St Andrews); Wham Park (Stirlingshire); Whoam Park (West Lothian); Whoam Quarry (West Lothian)Quhawmes 1594; wester quhawme 1635; Whalmfoot 1635-6; Sandy Wham 1773wham n1quhawme n
whin, funquhinON *hvin, ME whinnthe common gorse or furzeWhins of Milton (Stirlingshire); Whin Park (Inverness, Stirlingshire); Whinhill Park (Edinburgh); Whinrig Hill (Berwickshire); Whinrigg (North Lanarkshire); Whins (Fife); Whinbush (Aberdeenshire)Quhins 1629; Whin 1755; Whins 1773; Figgate Whins 1893whin n2; fun n1quhin, quhine, whin n1
wrichtwrichtOE wyrhtana wright, a wood-worker or carpenterWrightshouses (Midlothian); Wright's Knowe (Kirkcudbrightshire); Wrighthill (Ayrshire); Wrights Croft (Aberdeenshire); Wrightfield (Ross and Cromarty)Wrychtyshousis 1382; Wrichtishouse(s) 1458; Wrychtland 1531-32; Wreuchtsland 1630wricht nwricht, wrycht, wrech(t n
wuidwodeOE wudunan area of trees (smaller than a forest), a stretch or piece of woodland; (of a place) wooded, consisting of treesWoodlands (Glasgow); Legerwood (Berwickshire); Holywood (Dumfriesshire); Woodend (Aberdeen); Williamwood (Glasgow); Woodneuk (Renfrewshire); Harwood (Roxburghshire); Woodinch (Perthshire); Woodmill (Fife)Swinewde 1097-1107; Wudehorn 1152; Ringwude 1153-65; Ledgerdwode 1165-73; Wudeschirche c1180wuid n: S1 wuid n; S2 wuid nwod(e n
yettʒetOE geatna gate, a gateway or entrance to a town or building; a natural pass or defile between hillsKirk Yetholm (Roxburghshire); Brae of Yetts (Dunbartonshire); Broadyetts (West Lothian); Rashlieyett (Ayrshire); Moatyett (South Lanarkshire); Wateryett (Ayrshire)le Barres ʒeth 1487; Sanct Leonards yettis 1553-54; Rodin Yett 1568; Mekill Yet 1590; Yetts of Keppel 1828; Yetts of Muckart 1845yett n1; S2 yett n1ʒet(t, yet(t 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
aikenakin, okenOE ǣcen, ācenaconsisting of oaks, oakenAikendean (Midlothian); Aikenhead (Glasgow); Aikencleugh (Ayrshire); Aikenshaw (Dunbartonshire)Akinhede 1260; Akynhevid 1379; Eck(i)eden 1612 Oakendean 1773aiken adjakin, aikin a; oken, oikin, oa(c)ken a
auld, owld, oldald, auld, oldOE aldaold; former, previousAuldhame (East Lothian); Auldgirth (Dumfriesshire); Auldhall (Fife, Stirlingshire); Old Liston (Midlothian); Auldcastle Road (Inverness); Oldmeldrum (Aberdeenshire)Aldeham 1094; Aldehamstoc 1127; Aldestelle 1136; Aldetuneburne c1200; Auldton 1329auld adj; S1 auld adj; S2 auld adj; old adj; S1 old adj; S2 old adj; owld adj; S2 owld adjald, auld a; old(e, ould(e a
birkenbirkinOE *bircenabirchen, consisting of birch-woodBirkenshaw (North Lanarkshire, West Lothian); Birkenbush (Angus, Banffshire); Birkenhill Croft (Morayshire); Birken Burn (Stirlingshire); Birkenside (Berwickshire)Birchinsyde 1158; Birkenside c 1170; Birkynshawe 1336-37; Birkenbrewell 1664birken abirkin, birken a
bleck, blackblak, blakeOE blæcablack; (of a hill) covered with heather; (of a house) built of drystone and earthBlack Law (Ayrshire, Dumfriesshire, Fife); The Black Isle (Ross and Cromarty); Blackchester (Berwickshire); Black Bothy (Abderdeenshire); Blackbraes (Stirlingshire); Blackwood (Dumfriesshire); Blackhall (Edinburgh); Blakedean (Roxburghshire); Blackcastle (Midlothian); Blackbyres (Ayrshire); Black Grain (Selkirkshire); The Black Bridge (Inverness)Blakepol c1190; Blachedene c1200; Blachope 1218; Blakhall c1330S2 bleck adj; black adj; S1 black adj, S2 black adj; black-house n; S1 black-house n; S2 black-house nblak, blac(k a; blake, blaik aSee also DOST bla, blae, a
blinblindOE blindanot patent to the sight, covered, hidden; obscure, dark; unfertile, unproductive, barrenThe Blind Tunnel (Glasgow); Blindwells (Angus, Fife); Blind Capul (Fife); Blindhaugh Burn (Selkirkshire); Blindwell (Stirlingshire); Blindwalls (Wigtownshire)Blyndewelle c1200; Blindethuayt c1218; Blindsyke c1350; Blyndle 1455; Blindley 1543blin, blind adj; S2 blin adjblind, blynd a
braidbradeOE brādabroad or wideBraidshaw (Midlothian); Braidley (Roxburghshire); Braidfield (Dunbartonshire); Broadhaugh (Roxburghshire); Broadleys (Fife); Braidwood (Midlothian)Bradestrother c1200; Brademedwe c1200; Bradeforde c1230; Bradewude a1240braid adj; S1 braid adj; S2 braid adjbrade, braid a
cauld, cowldcaldOE caldacoldCaldside (Berwickshire); Cauldcots (Angus); Caulhame (West Lothian); Cauldcoats (Midlothian, Renfrewshire); Cauldside (Dumfriesshire, East Lothian); Coldstream (Berwickshire); Cauldshiel (East Lothian)Kalde welle c1190; Kaldestrem c 1200; Caldelaue 1218; Caldclogh 1363cauld adj; S1 cauld adj; S2 cauld adj; cowld adj; S2 cowld adjcald, cauld a
derndern, darnOE derneasecret, obscure, hidden; dark, dreary, lonely, desolateDerncleugh (Aberdeen); Darnick (Roxburghshire); Darnrig Moss (Stirlingshire); Dernfurd (Aberdeenshire)Dernewic c1136; Dernewick 1584; Dernfurd 1662; Derne Moss 1684dern adj; S2 dern adjdern(e, darn(e a
east, aistest, eistOE ēastasituated in the east, easternEastfield (Glasgow); East Craigs (Edinburgh); East Kilbride (South Lanarkshire); Eastgate (Inverness); East Neuk (Fife); East Grain (Aberdeenshire); East Voe of Quarff (Shetland)Estfulhope c1240; Estcrag 1278; Est Nesebit 1296; Estschelys 1359; Estwod 1373east adj; S2 east adj; aist adjest, eist a
easterester, eisterOE ēasterraaeastern, lying towards the east, the more easterly of two places or buildings (in contrast with wester)Easterhouse (Glasgow); Easter Ross (Ross and Cromarty); Easterton (Aberdeenshire); Easter Quarff (Shetland); Easter Cash (Fife); Easter Tofts (South Lanarkshire); Easter Knock (Aberdeenshire)Esterhathou a1200; Estyr Fenton c1224; Eister Vemis 1556; Eistyr Drakie 1562easter adjester, eister, easter a
fairniefarnyOE fearnigafernyFairnieside (Berwickshire); Ferniebrae (Aberdeenshire, Kincardineshire); Fairnielee (Selkirkshire); Ferniehill (Edinburgh); Ferniehirst (Midlothian, Roxburghshire); Ferniegair (South Lanarkshire); Fernieflatt (Kincardineshire); Fernyrig (Berwickshire); Fernie Grain (Midlothian)Farniacres 13thC; Farenyacredene c1320; Farnydoune 1372; Farnyle 1456fern nfarny a
great, gretgret, greteOE grēatagreatGreatmoor (Roxburghshire); Great Knock (Peeblesshire); Great Brow (Dumfriesshire); Great Law (Midlothian); Great Hill (Peeblesshire)Gretrigesmedue c1170; Gretryg c1214; Gretlau a1300; Grittmoore 1654great adj; S2 great adjgret, grett a; grete, greit a
greengreneOE grēneagrassy, green-coloured; covered in grass or greeneryGreenlaw (Angus, Berwickshire, Midlothian); Greenhill (Sutherland); Greenwood (Berwickshire); Greenside (Midlothian); Green Nap (Fife); Greenhead (Roxburghshire); Green Shields (Stirlingshire)Grenlaw a1159; Grenerig c1220; Grenesyd(e) 1256-59; Greneheved 1296; Grenhil(cotis) 1317; Grenelaw 1492green adj; S1 green adj; S2 green adjgrene, grein a
hairhare, horeOE hārahoary, grey or white (with age); covered with mould or rime; (of a stone) marking a boundaryHarestanes (Dunbartonshire); Harcarse (Berwickshire); Haregills (Dumfriesshire); Harelawhill (West Lothian); Harestanes Heights (Dumfriesshire)Hares(ch)awes a1240; Harestan c1320; Hairstaines 1673; Harestone 1753hair adjhare, hair a; hore, hoir a
haliehalyOE hāligaholyHolyrood (Edinburgh); Hallidean (Roxburghshire); Holywood (Dumfriesshire); Holywell (Aberdeenshire)Haliwelburn a1230; Halistane 1329; Halywell 1398; Helliman Rig 1881halie adj; S2 halie adjhaly a; holy, holly a
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

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.)