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: inch
Older Scots Form: inch; insh
Etymology: Gael innis
PoS: n
Definition: an island; a piece of ground rising in the middle of a plain; a low-lying tract of ground on a river bank (sometimes cut off at high tide)
Modern Examples: Wester Inshes (Inverness); South Inch (Aberdeenshire); The King's Inch (Renfrewshire); Inchwood (Stirlingshire); Little Inch (Fife); Netherinch (Stirlingshire); Heatherinch (Fige)
Historical Evidence: Redinche 1198-9; Stan Inche 13thC; le Kingis Inche 1450; Sanct Serfis ynche 1567; Keyth Inch c1680
SND Link: inch n
DOST Link: inch n2; ins(c)h

Modern Form: kame
Older Scots Form: kame
Etymology: OE camb
PoS: n
Definition: a long, narrow, steep-sided mound or ridge, a hill-ridge; a small peninsula, a narrow isthmus
Modern Examples: Kame 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)
Historical Evidence: Camis 1533; Kems 1654; Kaims Hill 1773; Kaimes 1781
SND Link: kame n; S1 kame n; S2 kame n
DOST Link: kame n; came n; kem, keme n

Modern Form: kill
Older Scots Form: kill, kilne
Etymology: OE cylene
PoS: n
Definition: a kiln; a kiln-shaped chasm in the rocks (linked to the sea by a tunnel)
Modern Examples: 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)
Historical Evidence: the Kill-croft 1627; Halfflakill 1627; Lilmkiln 1773; Halfla Kill 1839
SND Link: kill n1; S2 kill n1
DOST Link: kill n1; kiln(e n; ADDS kiln(e n

Modern Form: king
Older Scots Form: king
Etymology: OE cyning
PoS: n
Definition: a king, the king
Modern Examples: Kingsknowe (Edinburgh); King's Park (Stirling); Kingsmills (Inverness); Kingslinks (Aberdeen); Kingsbarns (Fife); Kingsmuir (Angus); Kingston Grange (Midlothian)
Historical Evidence: Kingeswell c1200; Kingessete c1200; Kyngeston 1221; Kynggesside a1300; Kynggewell a1300; Kyngestrete c1330
SND Link: king n; S1 king n; S2 king n
DOST Link: king n; ADDS king n

Modern Form: kirk
Older Scots Form: kyrk
Etymology: ON kirkja, OE kirke
PoS: n
Definition: a church
Modern Examples: New Kirk (Aberdeenshire); Hobkirk (Roxburghshire); Ladykirk (Berwickshire); Kirk o' Field (Midllothian]; Kirkford (Fife); Kirkmuir (Kirkcudbrightshire)
Historical Evidence: Kyrckeburne c1160; Selekirke 1165-1214; Askirke 1214-49; Kyrkhop a1300
SND Link: kirk n1; S1 kirk n1; S2 kirk n1
DOST Link: kirk n; ADDS kirk n

Modern Form: kirkton
Older Scots Form: kirktoun
Etymology: ON kirkja, OE kirke + OE tūn
PoS: n
Definition: a town or village situated by a church, the hamlet in which the parish church of a rural parish is located; a farm adjacent to a church
Modern Examples: Kirkton of Bourtie (Aberdeenshire); Kirkton (Fife, Midlothian, Roxburghshire); Kirktonbridge Cottages (Aberdeenshire); Kirkton of Cults (Fife); Kirkton of Tough (Aberdeenshire); Kirkton Muir (Kincardineshire); Nether Kirkton (Aberdeenshire); Kirktonhill (Dumfriesshire)
Historical Evidence: Kyrchetune c1145; Kirketun 1206; Kirketun super Stryvelin 1319; kyrktoune 1403
SND Link: kirk n1; S2 kirk n1
DOST Link: kirk-, kyrktoun n
Notes: See also DOST kirk-clachan n

Modern Form: knock
Older Scots Form: knok
Etymology: Gael cnoc
PoS: n
Definition: a small hill or hillock, especially one in isolation
Modern Examples: Knock of Formal (Angus); Knock Hill (Aberdeenshire); Easter Knock (Aberdeenshire); West Knock (Angus); East Knock (Angus)
Historical Evidence: Knokis 1330; Knok 1364; Heslisid Knok 1525; Knokhill 1541
SND Link: knock n3
DOST Link: knok, knock n3

Modern Form: know, knowe
Older Scots Form: know, knoll
Etymology: OE cnoll
PoS: n
Definition: a small rounded hill, a hillock or mound (sometimes associated with fairies)
Modern Examples: Acreknowe (Roxburghshire); Crowdieknowe (Dumfriesshire); Knowe of Grugar (Orkney); Mill Knowe (Argyllshire); Tappetknowe (Stirlingshire); Silver Knowe (Perthshire); Gallows Knowe (West Lothian); Knowe of Steeringlo (Orkney) Knowehead (Aberdeenshire, Angus); Broomknowe (Fife); Knowe of Burgarth (Shetland); Silverknowes (Edinburgh); Dam Knowe (Wigtownshire)
Historical Evidence: Brunecnolh 1165-1249; Knolestruthyr c1350; Lie widderitknow 1599; Clerks Know 1754
SND Link: know n; S1 know n; S2 know n
DOST Link: knoll n; know n

Modern Form: kyle
Older Scots Form: kyle
Etymology: Gael caol
PoS: n
Definition: a strait or sound; a narrow arm of the sea; a narrow part of a river
Modern Examples: Kyles of Bute (Argyllshire); Kyle of Lochalsh (Inverness-shire); Kyle of Sutherland (Sutherland); Kyle of Tongue (Sutherland)
Historical Evidence: Kyle of Aran 1549; Kyle de Glenalmond 1624; Kyll of Glenamount 1641; Kyle of Shuna 1730
SND Link: kyle n1
DOST Link: kyle, kyll n

Modern Form: lamb
Older Scots Form: lam
Etymology: OE lamb
PoS: n
Definition: a lamb, a young sheep
Modern Examples: Lambhill (Glasgow); Lambden (Berwickshire); Lamblair Edge (Roxburghshire); Lamb Island (Perthshire); Lamb Rig (Dumfriesshire); (The) Lamb (Firth of Forth); Lamblair Hill (Roxburghshire); Lamblair Knowe (Dumfriesshire)
Historical Evidence: Lambremore c1160; Lambedene 1214-49; Lambhilles 1666; Lamb-Croft 1667
SND Link: lamb n1
DOST Link: lam, lamb(e n

Modern Form: lang
Older Scots Form: lang
Etymology: OE lang
PoS: a
Definition: long
Modern Examples: Langholm (Dumfriesshire); Langlands (Stirlingshire); Langton (Berwickshire); Langbank (Stirlingshire); Langside (Dumfriesshire, Roxburghshire); Langfauld (Fife); Langhill (Stirlingshire); Langhaugh (Angus)
Historical Evidence: Langelaw c1170; Langelandes c1200; Langeside c1225; Langefelle c1270
SND Link: lang adj; S1 lang adj; S2 lang adj
DOST Link: lang adj1; ADDS lang adj1; long adj

Modern Form: law
Older Scots Form: law
Etymology: OE hlāw
PoS: n
Definition: a round or conical hill, often in isolation; an artificial mound or hillock, a grave-mound or barrow; a mound of earth and shingle on the bank of a river on to which salmon nets are drawn to be emptied
Modern Examples: Softlaw (Roxburghshire); Black Law (Ayrshire); Lawhead (Fife); Harelaw (Berwickshire); Box Law (Ayrshire); Lawmuir (Dunbartonshire); Sauchie Law (Selkirkshire); Meikle Law (Midlothian)
Historical Evidence: Raperlau c1150; Wythelawe 1147-52; Grenlaw a1159; Harlauhill c1170; Welpelaw 1222; Qwitlau 1327
SND Link: law n2
DOST Link: law n2; ADDS law n2
Notes: See also DOST law n3, which may be related

Modern Form: liggat
Older Scots Form: liggat
Etymology: OE hlidgeat
PoS: n
Definition: a self-closing gate, to prevent cattle from straying
Modern Examples: Liggat Syke (West Lothian); Whinnieliggate (Kirkcudbrightshire); Liggatt Hill (Wigtownshire); Ludgate Lodge (Edinburgh); Liggat Cheek (Kirkcudbrightshire); Luggate Burn (East Lothian); Fumart Liggat (Kirkcudbrightshire); Doddiesliggat (Dumfriesshire); Red Liggat (Wigtownshire); Stubliggat (Kirkcudbrightshire)
Historical Evidence: lidyate 1170; Lidgai 1540-41; Liggate 1746; Liggat Syke 1890
SND Link: liggat n; S2 liggat n
DOST Link: liggat n; lidgait n; lidyate n

Modern Form: links
Older Scots Form: linkis
Etymology: OE hlincas
PoS: n
Definition: the sandy undulating open ground covered with turf, bent grass or gorse along the sea shore on a flat part of the coast, often including sand-dunes (which is often common ground belonging to the nearest town)
Modern Examples: Links of Dunnet (Caithness); Linksfield (Aberdeen, Morayshire); Innes Links (Morayshire); Monifieth Links (Angus); Whitelinks (Aberdeenshire); Links Wood (Fife); Leith Links (Edinburgh); Links of Montrose (Angus)
Historical Evidence: le lynkis de Leith 1453; le linkis de Dirltoun 1512; the eist and west linxis of Dunbar 1598-99; Leith linx 1673; Bruntsfield links 1684
SND Link: links; S2 links
DOST Link: linkis, lynkis n. plu; ADDS linkis n. plu
Notes: See also SNDS1 links market

Modern Form: linn
Older Scots Form: linn
Etymology: OE hlynn, Gael linn(e)
PoS: n
Definition: a waterfall, a cateract; a precipice, ravine, a deep narrow gorge; a pool in a river; a pool below a waterfall
Modern Examples: Linn o' Dee (Aberdeenshire); Lin Mill (Stirlingshire); Lindean (Selkirkshire); Linn of Muick (Aberdeenshire); Colislinn (Roxburghshire); Lynn (Fife); Bell's Linn (Roxburghshire); Linhouse (Midlothian)
Historical Evidence: Lynden 1153-45; Lynnesden 1228; Clydis Lin 1649; Lintoun Linn 17thC; Corra Linn 1825
SND Link: linn n; S1 linn n; S2 linn n
DOST Link: lin, linn(e, lyn(n n

Modern Form: loan
Older Scots Form: lone
Etymology: OE lane
PoS: n
Definition: a 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 lane
Modern Examples: Dobbie’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)
Historical Evidence: the lone of Alanhauch 1535-36; Brochtoun lon heid 1587; Dalry lone 1591; Carcart lone heid 1664
SND Link: loan n1; S2 loan n1
DOST Link: lone n1
Notes: Compare SND loanin n and DOST loning n

Modern Form: loanin, loaning
Older Scots Form: loning
Etymology: ME lonyng
PoS: n
Definition: An enclosed track for animals through cultivated or park land; a grassy strip serving as a milking place: a common road or green of this sort
Modern Examples: Greenloaning (Perthshire); Loaningfoot (Kirkcudbrightshire); Loaninghill (West Lothain); Loaningside (Stirlingshire); Loaninghead (Kirkcudbrightshire)
Historical Evidence: le lonyngdyke 1348; The lonyng of the land of Greneforde 1402; Lie grene lonyng 1565; westirloaning 1641
SND Link: loanin n; S2 loanin n
DOST Link: loning n
Notes: Compare SND loan n1 and DOST lone n1

Modern Form: loch
Older Scots Form: loch
Etymology: Gael loch
PoS: n
Definition: an expanse of standing water, a lake or pond; a narrow or land-locked arm of the sea
Modern Examples: Hogganfield Loch (Glasgow) Lochfauld (Dunbartonshire); Loch of Brockan (Orkney); Corby Loch (Aberdeen); Loch of Aithsness (Shetland); Loch Mill (West Lothian); Lochend (Argyllshire, Inverness-shire); Loch of Mey (Caithness); Duddingston Loch (Edinburgh); Lochshot (West Lothian)
Historical Evidence: Blaklouch a1325; louch medow 1439; Louchside 1451; Burro Lowch 1561-62; North Loch 1569
SND Link: loch n; S2 loch n
DOST Link: loch, louche n
Notes: See also DOST locheid n

Modern Form: lowp
Older Scots Form: lowp, loup
Etymology: ON hlaup
PoS: n
Definition: a 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 waterfall
Modern Examples: Buck 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)
Historical Evidence: Maiden's loup 1629; Wallace loup 1638; the Loups of Kenny 1795; The Strait-loup 1856
SND Link: lowp n; S2 lowp n
DOST Link: lowp, loup n1; lope, loip n

Modern Form: meedow
Older Scots Form: medow
Etymology: OE mǣdwe
PoS: n
Definition: a meadow, (marshy) grassland which is mown for use as hay
Modern Examples: Meadowfield (Edinburgh); Greenmeadow (Shetland); Meadowgreens (Stirlingshire); Broadmeadows (Selkirkshire); Meadowbank (Edinburgh); Fostermeadow (Dumfriesshire); Meadowhead (Fife); The Meadows (Edinburgh)
Historical Evidence: Gretrigesmedue c1170; Meduflat a1200; Brademedue 1200-02; Hollemedu a1250; medowschott of Restalrig 1579; The Medowburne 1632
SND Link: meedow n
DOST Link: medow n
Notes: See also DOST medow-skift n and medow-ward n

Modern Form: midden
Older Scots Form: middin, midding
Etymology: ON *myki-dyngja, ME mydding
PoS: n
Definition: a dunghill, a refuse heap; a boggy place
Modern Examples: Midden Craig (Kirkcudbrightshire); Black Midden (Aberdeenshire); The Middens (Fife); Carsehope Middens (South Lanarkshire)
Historical Evidence: Blakmiddingis 1508; Mydynnes 1517; Middendub 1781; The Middens 1855 (OS Fife v3)
SND Link: midden n, S1 midden n, S2 midden n
DOST Link: mid(d)in(g n

Modern Form: mill
Older Scots Form: miln, mylne
Etymology: OE myln
PoS: n
Definition: a mill, a corn-mill
Modern Examples: Millburn (Inverness); Mill of Gairn (Aberdeenshire); Waulkmill (Morayshire); Kingsmills (Inverness); Milnquarter (Stirlingshire); Loch Mill (West Lothian); Little Mill (Aberdeenshire); Mill Knowe (Argyllshire); Milnthird (Kirkcudbrightshire)
Historical Evidence: mulneburne 1165-1214; Milnehalech c 1200; milnecroft 1227; Le mylne crofte 1428; the mylne of Kynnabir 1467
SND Link: mill n; S1 milln
DOST Link: miln, mill n

Modern Form: milton
Older Scots Form: milntoun
Etymology: OE myln + tūn
PoS: n
Definition: the buildings comprising a mill; the farm adjacent to a mill and tenanted by the miller; a hamlet which has grown up around a mill
Modern Examples: Milton of Campsie (Dunbartonshire); Milton of Balgonie (Fife); Waulkmilton (Stirlingshire); Milton of Whitehouse (Aberdeenshire); Milton of Tullich (Aberdeenshire); Milltown of Phingask (Aberdeenshire); Milton (Dumfriesshire, Fife, Glasgow, Inverness); Miltongreen (Fife); Milton of Ogilvie (Angus); Milton of Leyes (Inverness)
Historical Evidence: milnetun 13thC; Mylnetoun c1240; myltoune of Concragy 1491; myllnetoun of Dunblane 1601; milltun of Lausie 1708
SND Link: mill n
DOST Link: miln-toun, myltoune n

Modern Form: mire
Older Scots Form: myre
Etymology: ON mýrr, ME mire
PoS: n
Definition: a piece of swampy ground, a bog, a morass; a peat bog
Modern Examples: Craigmire (Aberdeenshire); Myreside (Angus, East Lothian, Moray); Black Myre (Aberdeenshire); Halymyres (Kincardinechaire); Hartwoodmyres (Selkirkshire); Whitemyres (Aberdeen); Greenmyre (Aberdeenshire); Myreton (Angus)
Historical Evidence: Wytteriggemyre c1200; Falumireside 13thC; Seggymir 1302; Hwytemyr c1320; Red(e)myre 1348; ly Futyis myre 1463
SND Link: mire n1
DOST Link: myr(e, mir(e n

Modern Form: moss
Older Scots Form: mos
Etymology: OE mos
PoS: n
Definition: a 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 fuel
Modern Examples: Mosspark (Glasgow); Moss of Cruan (Orkney); Moss of Wester (Caithness); Moss Croft (Aberdeenshire); Red Moss (Caithness); Hallmoss (Aberdeenshire)
Historical Evidence: Mosplat c 1220; Byermos 1219-33; Grenemos c1300-30; Ridhalchis Mowse 1475
SND Link: moss n; S2 moss n
DOST Link: mos 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 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.)