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 Link DOST LinkNotes
brume, broombrume, bromeOE brōmnthe plant broom, bushes or stretches of broomBroompark Farm (Glasgow); Broomhill (Ross and Cromarty); Broomhouse (East Lothian, Edinburgh, Roxburghshire); Broomridge (Stirling); Broomhall (Fife); Broomlands (Dumfriesshire, Midlothian, Roxburghshire); Broomknowes (Ayrshire)Brumcrok c.1300; Bruymdyk 1490; Bromeparkis 1556; brumecroft c1567brume, brim n; S1 brume n; breem, breme n1; broom n1brume n; brome, browme n
brig, briggbrigOE brycg, ON bryggjana bridge; a reef, a long low ridge of sea-rocks; a large flat stone, a flagstoneBlackbriggs (Ayrshire, Kirkcudbrightshire); Birgham (Berwickshire); Gorebridge (Edinburgh); The Brig o Ballater; (Abderdeenshire); Brighouse (Kirkcudbrightshire); Brig o' Doon (Ayrshire); Fisherbriggs (Aberdeenshire); Briggait (Glasgow); Brigstanes (Kincardineshire); Stonebriggs (Aberdeenshire)Prestesbrige c1150; Hatherbrig c1190; Risibrigg c1240; Briggate c1266; Brighous 1337; Bryghend 1359brig n1; S1 brig n1; S2 brig n1brig, bryg n
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
braebra, brayON brá, ME branthe 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 districtBraes 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 1592brae, bray(e), brea n1; S1 brae n1; S2 brae n2bra, bray, brae nSee also DOST bra-hede n
breckan, brechanbrakanME brakennbrackenBreckonside (Dumfriesshire); Breconrae (Dumfriesshire); Brackenhirst (North Lanarkshire); Brekenrig (Dumfriesshire); Bracken Falls (Wigtownshire); Brackenleys (Stirlingshire); Breconside (Kirkcudbrightshire); Breckenshank (Dumfriesshire)Brakanwra c1270; Brakenrig 1428; Brakanhirst 1475; Brakanrig 1504brachan, brachen, brechan n; bracken n; breckan, brecken nbrakan, braikane n1
bourtreebourtreME burtrenthe elder treeBourtreebush (Angus); Bourtrees (Ayrshire); Bourtreehill North, Bourtreehill South (Ayrshire); Bourtree Bush Park (West Lothian); Bourtreebuss (Fife)Burtrees c1320; Bourtriehill 1590; Bourtrees 1662; Bourtrie-mailing 1663bourtree n; S2 bourtree nbourtré, bowtré nsee also SND bour n
bogbog, boigGael bog, bogachna bog, a mireBogton (North Lanarskhire); Bogside (Stirlingshire); Bogwells (Fife); Boghead (Dunbartonshire); Bogtown (Stirlingshire); Bogleys (Fife); Boghall (Angus)Harebogge 1359; Blakeboggys 1359; Lochlebogsyd 1374; bogside 1417; Boighaw 1478bog, boag n3bog n; ADDS bog n
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
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
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
bentbentOE beonetna strong coarse variety of grass of a reedy or rush-like character (found on moorland or links); a place where such grass grows; a sandy hillock or a stretch of open ground covered with bent grass; a (grassy) slope or hillsideBenthead (Ayrshire, West Lothian); Gullane Bents (East Lothian); Bentfoot (North Lanarkshire); The Bents (West Lothian); White Bents (Angus)The Bentis 1586; Bents of Balruddie 1662; Broadbents 1773; Southbent 1755bent n1; S1 bent n1; bent n2bent n
bankbankON bakki, *banki, ME bankena bank, a river bank; a raised shelf or ridge of ground; steep cliffs or precipitous rocks (along the coast); a hill slope; a foot-path or walk; the place in a moss from which peats are cut; the boundary line of a farmClydebank (Dunbartonshire); Bankfoot (Perthshire); Scrogbank (Selkirkshire); Meadowbank (Edinburgh); Springbank (Wigtownshire); Bankend (Dumfriesshire); Greenbank (Aberdeenshire); Nessbank (Inverness)Byrkebanke 13thC; Brerybankes 1367; Bankhede 1519; Bankend 1546bank n2, S1 bank n2, bakk n1bank n1
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
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
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
aikakeOE ācnoak, an oak treeAikrig (Dumfriesshire); Oakwood (Selkirkshire); Oakbank (Midlothian); Oakfield (Fife)Akedene c1204; Aikwod 1567-68; Aikrig 1662; Oak Wood 1684aik n; S2 aik n; oak nake, aik n; ADDS ake, aik n; (oke) ock(e 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.)