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 Form: corse, cross
Older Scots Form: corse, croce, cros
Etymology: OE cros, ON kross
PoS: n
Definition: a cross; a market cross, a market place, a boundary cross; a cairn, a pile of stones on a hill-top
Modern Examples: Corseford (Renfrewshire); Corsehill (Kirkcudbrightshire); Corsewall (Wigtownshire); Coarse Hill (Fife); Tollcross (Edinburgh, Glasgow); Corseyard (Kirkcudbrightshire); Crossford (South Lanarkshire); Crossgates (Fife); Corsehope (Midlothian); Corseland (Kirkcudbrightshire)
Historical Evidence: Crossrigeflat c1220; Crosflatte c1320; Hakkerstane crose 1425; Crosdikis 1456
SND Link: corse, cors, kors n; croce n; cross n; S1 cross n; S2 cross n
DOST Link: cors, corce, corse n2; croce n1; cros, cross(e n1; croice, crois(e n; crose, croas n

Modern Form: cot
Older Scots Form: cot, cote
Etymology: OE cot
PoS: n
Definition: a small house, a humble dwelling, a cottage; a sheep-house
Modern Examples: Saltcoats (Ayrshire, East Lothian); Cotts of Innes (Morayshire); Cauldcoats (Midlothian); Gatehousecote (Roxburghshire); Lochcote (West Lothian); Banks Cott (Kirkcudbrightshire); Butchercoat (Berwickshire); Coates (Midlothian)
Historical Evidence: Grenhilcotis c1320; Saltcotis 1368; Lochcot(t)is 1471; Coitcroft 1576
SND Link: cot n; S2 cot n
DOST Link: cot, cott n3; cote, coit n2
Notes: See also DOST cotland n and cote-, coit-, coatland, n; and DOST cot-toun n

Modern Form: craig
Older Scots Form: crag
Etymology: Gael creag, ME crag
PoS: n
Definition: a cliff on the sea or mountain-side, a projecting spur of rock; (in plural) rocky ground; sea-rocks, cliffs
Modern Examples: Eastcraigs (Edinburgh); Craigmire (Aberdeenshire); White Craig (Stirlingshire); Williamcraigs (West Lothian); Little Craigs (Ayrshire); Craigend (Angus); Westcraigs (West Lothian); Maw Craig (Aberdeenshire); Craighead (Ayrshire)
Historical Evidence: Krag 1278; Villamis Craigis c.1335; White Cragg 1370; Westecrage of Egilsface 1392
SND Link: craig, crag n1; S1 craig n1; S2 craig n1
DOST Link: crag, crage, craig n1

Modern Form: cuningar
Older Scots Form: cuningar, cunnigar
Etymology: OF conninière, ME conynger
PoS: n
Definition: a rabbit warren
Modern Examples: Kinningars Park (West Lothian); Cunningar Wood (Aberdeenshire); The Cuningar (West Lothian); Cunningar (Midlothian)
Historical Evidence: Cunyngare 1491; Cunneger hill 1496; Cunnynger hillis1514; Cunnyngayrland 1543
SND Link: cuningar n
DOST Link: cuningar, cunningair n; (cunigar), cunnigare n; conyngar(e n; *cuneinyaird n; kunynʒare n
Notes: see also DOST cunnygarth n

Modern Form: dale, deel, daal
Older Scots Form: dale, dail
Etymology: OE dæl, ON dalr
PoS: n
Definition: a dale, a valley
Modern Examples: Teviotdale (Roxburghshire); Lauderdale (Berwickshire); Butterdales (Dumfriesshire); Tweeddale (Roxburghshire); Nithsdale (Dumfriesshire)
Historical Evidence: Teviettedale c1100; Drivesdale 1116; Teuidall c1154; Tvededale 1159; Lawederdale c1200
SND Link: dale n3; deel n; daal, dal(l n
DOST Link: dale, dail(l n1

Modern Form: den, dean
Older Scots Form: den, dene
Etymology: OE denu
PoS: n
Definition: a hollow with sloping sides (often with a rivulet), a narrow (wooded) ravine or valley, a dingle
Modern Examples: Den Burn (Aberdeenshire); Blakedean (Roxburghshire); Cardenden (Fife); Dean Village (Edinburgh); Denholm (Roxburghshire); Lambden (Berwickshire); Aikendean (Midlothian); Milldeans (Fife); Hassendean (Roxburghshire)
Historical Evidence: Lummesdene c1100; Botheldene 1159; Ellesdene 1218; Strikerden 1275; Denside 1304
SND Link: den n1
DOST Link: den n1; dene n1

Modern Form: dern
Older Scots Form: dern, darn
Etymology: OE derne
PoS: a
Definition: secret, obscure, hidden; dark, dreary, lonely, desolate
Modern Examples: Derncleugh (Aberdeen); Darnick (Roxburghshire); Darnrig Moss (Stirlingshire); Dernfurd (Aberdeenshire)
Historical Evidence: Dernewic c1136; Dernewick 1584; Dernfurd 1662; Derne Moss 1684
SND Link: dern adj; S2 dern adj
DOST Link: dern(e, darn(e a

Modern Form: doocot
Older Scots Form: dowcot
Etymology: ME dove + cot
PoS: n
Definition: a dovecot
Modern Examples: Dovecothall (Berwickshire, Renfrewshire); Doocot (Aberdeenshire); Doo' cot Park (Perth); Doo' cot Hill (Clackmananshire); Dovecot Wood (Aberdeen); Dovecotwell (Dumfriesshire)
Historical Evidence: ducat burne 1592; doucott aiker 1593; dowcat wynde 1660; Dovecot Park 1781
SND Link: doocot n; S2 doocot n
DOST Link: dowcot, dowcat n

Modern Form: east, aist
Older Scots Form: est, eist
Etymology: OE ēast
PoS: a
Definition: situated in the east, eastern
Modern Examples: Eastfield (Glasgow); East Craigs (Edinburgh); East Kilbride (South Lanarkshire); Eastgate (Inverness); East Neuk (Fife); East Grain (Aberdeenshire); East Voe of Quarff (Shetland)
Historical Evidence: Estfulhope c1240; Estcrag 1278; Est Nesebit 1296; Estschelys 1359; Estwod 1373
SND Link: east adj; S2 east adj; aist adj
DOST Link: est, eist a

Modern Form: easter
Older Scots Form: ester, eister
Etymology: OE ēasterra
PoS: a
Definition: eastern, lying towards the east, the more easterly of two places or buildings (in contrast with wester)
Modern Examples: Easterhouse (Glasgow); Easter Ross (Ross and Cromarty); Easterton (Aberdeenshire); Easter Quarff (Shetland); Easter Cash (Fife); Easter Tofts (South Lanarkshire); Easter Knock (Aberdeenshire)
Historical Evidence: Esterhathou a1200; Estyr Fenton c1224; Eister Vemis 1556; Eistyr Drakie 1562
SND Link: easter adj
DOST Link: ester, eister, easter a

Modern Form: edge
Older Scots Form: ege
Etymology: OE ecg
PoS: n
Definition: an edge; the crest of a sharp ridge
Modern Examples: Windy Edge (Fife, West Lothian); Edgeface (Stirlingshire); Muiredge (Fife); Edgefield (Midlothian); Lamblair Edge (Roxburghshire); Edgefauld Road (Glasgow); Cairn Edge (Midlothian)
Historical Evidence: Soltray ege 1455; Windiaige 1596; Eadestoun eadge 1603; Edgeberry 1773
SND Link: edge n
DOST Link: ege, egge n

Modern Form: fairnie
Older Scots Form: farny
Etymology: OE fearnig
PoS: a
Definition: ferny
Modern Examples: Fairnieside (Berwickshire); Ferniebrae (Aberdeenshire, Kincardineshire); Fairnielee (Selkirkshire); Ferniehill (Edinburgh); Ferniehirst (Midlothian, Roxburghshire); Ferniegair (South Lanarkshire); Fernieflatt (Kincardineshire); Fernyrig (Berwickshire); Fernie Grain (Midlothian)
Historical Evidence: Farniacres 13thC; Farenyacredene c1320; Farnydoune 1372; Farnyle 1456
SND Link: fern n
DOST Link: farny a

Modern Form: fauld
Older Scots Form: fald
Etymology: OE falod
PoS: n
Definition: an 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 it
Modern Examples: Lochfauld (Dunbartonshire) Whitefauld (Stirlingshire); Edgefauld Road (Glasgow); Langfaulds (Dunbartonshire); Clayfaulds (Stirlingshire); Muiryfaulds (Angus); Linen Faulds (West Lothian); Scabbit Fauld (Aberdeenshire); Whitefaulds (Ayrshire); Bowriefauld (Angus)
Historical Evidence: Kochilfaulde 1407; Morefaulde 1407; the faldis of Cabrastone 1595-96; Firth Faldis 1611
SND Link: fauld n2; S2 fauld n2; fold n; S1 fold n
DOST Link: fald, fauld n1
Notes: See also SNDS barnfauld n and DOST stand fa(u)ld n, shepe-fald n, fald-dyke n, fold-dyke n, nowt-fald n

Modern Form: fell
Older Scots Form: fell
Etymology: ON fjall
PoS: n
Definition: a (rocky) hill, a mountain; a tract of hill-moor
Modern Examples: Campsie Fells (Stirlingshire); Long Fell (Kirkcudbrightshire); Fellcleugh (Berwickshire); Round Fell (Kirkcudbrightshire); Dodd Fell (Roxburghshire); Fell Hill (Wigtownshire); Dryden Fell (Roxburghshire); Abbey Fell (Kirkcudbrightshire); Fellend (Dumfriesshire); Fell of Fleet (Kirkcudbrightshire); Capell Fell (Dumfriesshire); Thorter Fell (Kirkcudbrightshire)
Historical Evidence: Erniltoun fell 1654; Ellemsyde of Felcleuch 1665; Campsie Fells 1795; Fell of Fleet 1832
SND Link: fell n2
DOST Link: fell n1

Modern Form: field
Older Scots Form: feld, field
Etymology: OE feld
PoS: n
Definition: a field
Modern Examples: Eastfield (Glasgow); Linksfield (Aberdeen); Bruntsfield (Edinburgh); Priestfield (Angus); Field of Noss (Caithness); Bellfield Park (Inverness); Hogganfield (Glasgow); Smithfield (Aberdeen)
Historical Evidence: Wytefeld c1200; Lyllochefylde 1293; Westfeld 1294; Prestfeld 1327; Hwytfyld 1333
SND Link: field n; S1 field n
DOST Link: feld(e, feild n; ADDS feld(e n
Notes: see also DOST feld(e) land, feild land n

Modern Form: flush, flash
Older Scots Form: flosche, flusch
Etymology: OE *flæsc, ON flask
PoS: n
Definition: a piece of boggy ground (where the water frequently lies on the surface), a swampy place, a pool of water in a field
Modern Examples: Flush Hill (Wigtownshire); Flosh (Dumfriesshire); Flass (Berwickshire, Fife); The Flashes (Midlothian); Floshend Loch (Dumfriesshire); Flesh Glen (Fife); The Floss (Selkirkshire); Foulflush (Wigtownshire); Flass Well (Berwickshire); Isle of Flosh (Dumfriesshire); Flesh Cleugh (Midlothian); Flask Wood (Dumfriesshire); Flosh Burn (Roxburghshire); Floshknowe (Dumfriesshire)
Historical Evidence: Flas 1388-89; Flashill 1531; Flasche 1550-51; The Flass 1569; Floshe 1569; Flask 1653; Flass 1654; Flash 1808
SND Link: flush n; flash n1
DOST Link: flosche n; flusch, fluche n, flus, flous, n

Modern Form: forest
Older Scots Form: forest, forrest
Etymology: OF forest
PoS: n
Definition: a forest, a large wood; (in law) a large tract of ground, not necessarily wooded, and commonly bare and mountainous, originally reserved for the hunting of deer and, as such, belonging to the Crown
Modern Examples: Ettrick Forest (Selkirkshire); Forest Lodge (Roxburghshire); Forest Muir (Angus); Stonedge Forest (Roxburghshire); Glendoll Forest (Angus); Foresthall (Glasgow); Devilla Forest (Fife); Wauchope Forest (Roxburghshire)
Historical Evidence: A foresto de Seleschirche a1153; Etryke forest 1384; Forrest burne 1648; The forest of Alyth 1724
SND Link: forest n
DOST Link: forest, forrest n

Modern Form: gallow, galla
Older Scots Form: gallow
Etymology: OE galga
PoS: n
Definition: a gallows, a place of execution
Modern Examples: Gallowgate (Glasgow); Gallatown (Fife); Gallowhill (Aberdeenshire, Ross and Cromarty, Perthshire, West Dunbartonshire, Wigtownshire); Gallowfauld (Angus); Galalaw (Roxburghshire); Gallowdykes (Edinburgh); Gallowhills (Aberdeenshire); Gallows Knowe (West Lothian)
Historical Evidence: Galuraw c1250; Galowhille 1315; Galugat 1317; Gallowmore 1488
SND Link: gallows n
DOST Link: gallo(w, galow- n; gallow(i)s, gallous n
Notes: See also DOST gallowgate n and gallowhill n

Modern Form: garth
Older Scots Form: garth
Etymology: ON garðr
PoS: n
Definition: an enclosure, yard, a small patch of enclosed cultivated ground, enclosed pasture (and the house attached to it); a shallow part or stretch of a river which may be used as a ford
Modern Examples: Applegarth (Dumfriesshire); Garthdee (Aberdeenshire); Fairgirth (Wigtownshire); Auldgirth (Dumfriesshire); Martin Girth (Kirkcudbrightshire); Inchgarth (Aberdeenshire)
Historical Evidence: Apilgarth 1361; Le fischegarth de Esk 1492; Apilgirth 1505; Algarth 1531
SND Link: garth n; S1 garth n; S2 garth n
DOST Link: garth n
Notes: See also DOST fisch-garth n

Modern Form: geo
Older Scots Form: geo
Etymology: ON gjá
PoS: n
Definition: a creek or inlet of the sea with steep rocky sides, a cleft with deep water among rocks; a ravine
Modern Examples: Geo of the Ward (Shetland); Peat Geo (Orkney); Millburn Geo (Shetland); Geo of Dykesend (Orkney); Geo of Sclaites (Caithness); Geo of Pass (Orkney); Geo of Markamouth (Shetland)
Historical Evidence: the geo of Nes 1617; the gew callit Howelay 1636; the Wolf's geo 1795; Mill-gue 1894
SND Link: geo n
DOST Link: geo, gio, gew n
Notes: Compare SND duo n

Modern Form: gill
Older Scots Form: gil
Etymology: ON gil
PoS: n
Definition: a narrow valley with steep, rocky sides; a ravine, a gully
Modern Examples: Raegill (Dumfriesshire); Stanygill (Roxburghshire); Haregills (Dumfriesshire); Bowman's Gill (Midlothian); Howgill (Dumfriesshire)
Historical Evidence: Rauengille a1238; Smalgyllis 1373; Cowsowgill 1481-82; Hairgills 1637
SND Link: gill n2; S1 gill n2; S2 gill n2
DOST Link: gil(l, gyll n1

Modern Form: gled
Older Scots Form: gled
Etymology: OE glida
PoS: n
Definition: the common kite; a hawk
Modern Examples: Gladswood (Berwickshire); Gledsnest (Roxburghshire); Gladhouse (Midlothian); Gledehills (Fife); Gled Hill (West Lothian); Gladsmoor (Wigtownshire); Glede Knowe (Midlothian); Gladgate (Fife); Glede Bog (Kirkcudbrightshire)
Historical Evidence: Gledehus 1140-53; Gleddiswod c1200; Gledstanes c1354; Gledhous 1563
SND Link: gled n1
DOST Link: gled n

Modern Form: glen
Older Scots Form: glen
Etymology: Gael glenn, gleann
PoS: n
Definition: a hollow or valley (traversed by a stream or river); a steep narrow-sided valley; the mountain reaches of a mountain valley; a dell, a ravine
Modern Examples: Glenhead (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)
Historical Evidence: le Glen 1292; the Glen 1502; Glenshott 1656; Glenheid 1662; Glenhead 1665
SND Link: glen n
DOST Link: glen n

Modern Form: grain
Older Scots Form: grain
Etymology: ON grein
PoS: n
Definition: the branch or fork of a stream or river, an arm of the sea; a branch of a valley, a tributary valley; the branch of a tree
Modern Examples: Crooked Grain (Aberdeenshire); Grains of Fetteresso (Kincardineshire); Black Grain (Selkirkshire); Grains of Tanar (Abderdeenshire); Haregrain (Roxburghshire); East Grain (Aberdeenshire); Grains (Dumfriesshire); The Grains (Abderdeenshire); Fernie Grain (Midlothian); Burngrains (Dumfriesshire); Wolf Grain (Aberdeenshire); Tod Grain (Dumfriesshire); Burn Grains (Kirkcudbrightshire)
Historical Evidence: Blakgrane 1456; Fauhopgranys 1456; Blakgrane 1510; Graines 1635
SND Link: grain n2
DOST Link: grain(e, grane n2

Modern Form: great, gret
Older Scots Form: gret, grete
Etymology: OE grēat
PoS: a
Definition: great
Modern Examples: Greatmoor (Roxburghshire); Great Knock (Peeblesshire); Great Brow (Dumfriesshire); Great Law (Midlothian); Great Hill (Peeblesshire)
Historical Evidence: Gretrigesmedue c1170; Gretryg c1214; Gretlau a1300; Grittmoore 1654
SND Link: great adj; S2 great adj
DOST Link: gret, grett a; grete, greit 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 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.)