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: mouth
Older Scots Form: mouth, mow
Etymology: OE mūða
PoS: n
Definition: a mouth; the mouth, outfall or lower end of a stream, river, estuary, or inland sea; the entrance to a harbour
Modern Examples: Lossiemouth (Morayshire); Grangemouth (Stirlingshire); Powmouth (Angus); Eyemouth (Berwickshire); Burnmouth (Angus, Ayrshire); Fordmouth (Angus)
Historical Evidence: Cramesmude 1097-1107; Brockesmuth 1165-1214; Twedemud 1217-27; Salwildmuthe 1214-49
SND Link: mouth n; S1 mouth n; S2 mouth n
DOST Link: mouth n; mow n2

Modern Form: muir
Older Scots Form: mure
Etymology: OE mōr
PoS: n
Definition: barren open country, uncultivated heathery land considered part of an estate; a tract or expanse of heath; a peat moor; a tract of unenclosed common land held by a town or village; a market green
Modern Examples: Muirhouse (Edinburgh); Nethermuir (Ayrshire); Muircroft (Argyllshire); Lammermuir (Berwickshire); Muiredge (Fife); Haughmuir (Angus); Clynelish Muir (Sutherland); Skaithmuir (Berwickshire); Muirhead (Fife)
Historical Evidence: Morthuweit a1153; Inter Lambremor et Tay 1153; De mora de Edenham 1160; Pilemor c1170
SND Link: muir n, S2 muir n
DOST Link: mure, muir, mor(e, moir n
Notes: See also DOST mur(e)-, muirland n

Modern Form: ness
Older Scots Form: nes
Etymology: ON nes, OE næs(s)
PoS: n
Definition: a promontory or headland
Modern Examples: Ness of Clousta (Shetland); Ness of Quoys (Caithness); Kirkness (Fife); Blackness (Dundee); Ness of Culsetter (Shetland); Bo'Ness (West Lothian); Ness of Burravoe (Shetland); Bridgeness (West Lothian); Scurdie Ness (Angus)
Historical Evidence: le nesse 1150; le Nys 1292; Blaknis 1330; Blacnes 1330
SND Link: ness n; S2 ness n
DOST Link: nes, nesse n

Modern Form: nether
Older Scots Form: nether, nedder
Etymology: OE neoþerra
PoS: a
Definition: lower, under; the lower-sited of two places (of the same name)
Modern Examples: Netherglen (Morayshire); Nethergate (Dundee); Netherburn (South Lanarkshire); Nether Pitcastle (Perthshire); Netherthird (Kirkcudbright); Netherton of Pittendrum (Aberdeenshire); Netherbyre (Morayshire); Netherwood (Dunbartonshire)
Historical Evidence: Nethirmerkhill 1363; Nethir Lebertoun 1387; Nethirkirkgate 1407; Nedyr Kyrk gate 1453; Neddirardis 1458; Nedder Pollok 1494-5
SND Link: nether adj
DOST Link: nether, nather a1; ned(d)er a

Modern Form: neuk
Older Scots Form: newk, nuke
Etymology: ME noke
PoS: n
Definition: a corner, a nook, a projecting corner of land; a small (triangular) piece of land; a projecting point of land, a headland or promontory; a street corner; a remote or outlying place; the angle of a stream, an inlet
Modern Examples: Craigneuk (North Lanarkshire); East Neuk of Fife (Fife); Woodneuk (Renfrewshire); Millersneuk (Dunbartonshire); Bare Neuk (West Lothian); Dykeneuk Moss (Ayrshire); Millstone Neuk (East Lothian); Mossneuk (North Lanarkshire)
Historical Evidence: the Nuke 1607; the catchpeull newik 1614; the walneuk of Paislaye 1620; the east nook of Fife 1676
SND Link: neuk n; S2 neuk n
DOST Link: neuk, newk n; nuk(e, nuik, nok n

Modern Form: north
Older Scots Form: north
Etymology: OE norþ
PoS: a
Definition: situated in the north, northerly
Modern Examples: Northfaulds (South Lanarkshire); North Haven (Aberdeenshire); North Berwick (Berwickshire); North Queensferry (Fife); North Shiel (West Lothian); North Mains (Angus); Norton (Midlothian); North Kessock (Ross and Cromarty); North Grain (Angus)
Historical Evidence: Northberwic c1211; Northflat 13thC; Northlandis 1306; Northbarnis 1328; Norbernys 1358; Northgat 1400
SND Link: north adj; S2 north adj
DOST Link: north adj

Modern Form: orchard, wortchat
Older Scots Form: orchat
Etymology: OE ortgeard
PoS: n
Definition: an enclosure for the cultivation of fruit-trees
Modern Examples: Orchardton (Kirkcudbrightshire); Orchardfield (Fife); Orchardhead (Stirlingshire); Lugton Orchard (Midlothian); Orchard (Roxburghshire, Dumfriesshire); Orchard Rig (Peeblesshire)
Historical Evidence: Orchidiardstrother c1320; Orchardcroft 1451; Orchardfelde 1470; the orchet of Carslo 1498-99; Orchartfeild 1522; Boyellis hortchet 1571; Oarchyeardtoune 1694
SND Link: wortchat n
DOST Link: orchard n; orchat n

Modern Form: otter, witter
Older Scots Form: otter
Etymology: OE oter
PoS: n
Definition: an otter
Modern Examples: Otter Isle (Kirkcudbrightshire); Otter Burn (Midlothian, Roxburghshire); Otter Strand (Kirkcudbrightshire); Otters Pool (Orkney); Otter Ayre (Shetland)
Historical Evidence: Otyrburn a1300; Otirburne 1373; Otterburne 1593; Oatters Pool 1765
SND Link: otter n; witter n4
DOST Link: otter n, notyr n

Modern Form: pap
Older Scots Form: pap
Etymology: ?ON *pap, ME pap
PoS: n
Definition: a breast, a nipple, one of a group of two or more conical hills
Modern Examples: The Paps of Jura (Argyllshire); Maidens Paps (Dunbartonshire); Meikle Pap (Aberdeenshire); The Little Pap (Aberdeenshire); Maidenpap (Kirkcudbright); The Pap (Aberdeenshire); Peter's Paps (Wigtownshire)
Historical Evidence: Madynpap 1459; The Paiplaw a1578; the thre Papes of Ida 1632; the Paps of Jurah 1703
SND Link: pap n1
DOST Link: pap, pape n1

Modern Form: patter
Older Scots Form: pottar
Etymology: OE pottere
PoS: n
Definition: a potter, a maker or vendor of pots
Modern Examples: Potter Row (Edinburgh); Potterhill (Ayrshire); Potterton (Aberdeenshire); Potterland (Kirkcudbrightshire); Potterston (Ayrshire)
Historical Evidence: Pottermedow 1333; Pottartoune 1457; Pottarraw 1561; Potter raw a1568
SND Link: pot n
DOST Link: pottar n

Modern Form: peat
Older Scots Form: pete
Etymology: ?Celtic *pett, OIr pit
PoS: n
Definition: peat
Modern Examples: Peat Burn (Kirkcudbrightshire); Peathill (Fife); Peatrig Hill (Midlothian); Peatrig (Kirkcudbrightshire); Peat Inn (Fife); Peat Knowes (Kirkcudbrightshire); Peat Law (Midlothian); Peat Hass (Kirkcudbrightshire)
Historical Evidence: petemyre (of Dontarvy) 1431; Peitrig 1535; Peithill Knoll 1549-50; Peithill Syik 1549-50; Peitaker 1562-62
SND Link: peat n1; S2 peat n1
DOST Link: pete, peit n1

Modern Form: peel
Older Scots Form: pele
Etymology: ME pele
PoS: n
Definition: a defensive palisade or fence of stakes, a stockade, ground enclosed by such; a small fortified or moated rectangular stone tower
Modern Examples: Peelrig (Berwickshire); Peelbraehope (Roxburghshire); Peelwalls (Berwickshire); Peelnick (Roxburghshire); Pilmuir (Berwickshire, Fife); Peel Hill (Selkirkshire)
Historical Evidence: Pel de Lithcu 14thC; le Pele 1429; peile of Belsyis 1479; the peile of Knokschenoch 1528
SND Link: peel n4
DOST Link: pele, peill n1

Modern Form: pike
Older Scots Form: pyke
Etymology: OE pīc, ON pík
PoS: n
Definition: a sharp pointed hill; a pointed pile of stones, a cairn; a pointed tip, a tapering horn-like projection
Modern Examples: Unthank Pikes (Roxburghshire); Pikeham (Midlothian); Pike Hole (West Lothian); Pike Fell (Roxburghshire); Pikestone Rig (Selkirkshire)
Historical Evidence: Pike 1785; Pyke 1801; Pike Fell 1832; Rone Fell 1832
SND Link: pike n
DOST Link: pik(e, pyk(e n1

Modern Form: pow
Older Scots Form: pow, poll
Etymology: Gael poll, OE pōl
PoS: n
Definition: a slow-moving, ditch-like stream, flowing through carseland; a (shallow) pool of water, a marshy place; a sea-pool in the rocks; a creek or inlet; a marshy field
Modern Examples: Powmouth (Angus); Pow Burn (Edinburgh); Powfoot (Dumfriesshire); Powside (Stirlingshire); The Cra' Pow (Orkney); Powflats (West Lothian)
Historical Evidence: pow mylne of Dalkeith 1481; powis of Arth 1512; Powlandis 1540; powburne 1563
SND Link: pow n2
DOST Link: poll, pow n1

Modern Form: priest
Older Scots Form: prest
Etymology: OE prēost
PoS: n
Definition: a priest, a clergyman of the Roman Catholic church
Modern Examples: Priesthill (Glasgow); Prestwick (Ayrshire); Prieston (Roxburghshire); Priestfield (Angus); Priest's Well (Aberdeenshire); Priestside (Dumfriesshire); Preston (Kirkcudbrightshire, Midlothian); Priestlands (Kirkcudbrightshire); Priest's Knowe (Aberdeenshire)
Historical Evidence: Prestbrige 1153-61; Preston 1165-1214; Prestmunethburne 1214-49; Prestfeld 1327
SND Link: priest n, S1 priest n
DOST Link: prest(e n

Modern Form: puddock
Older Scots Form: paddok, poddok
Etymology: ME paddoke
PoS: n
Definition: a frog, a toad
Modern Examples: Pottishaw (West Lothian); Paddockmuir Wood (Perthshire); Paddock Hall (West Lothian); Paddington Sike (Roxburghshire)
Historical Evidence: Poddocford 1272-1316; Paddocford c1300; Padokschaw 1503; Paddowcleucheheid 1569; Paddoklaw 1618; paddock-buttis 1619
SND Link: puddock n; S1 puddock n; S2 puddock n
DOST Link: pad(d)ok n1; poddo(c)k, puddock n; paddo, padow n
Notes: Compare DOST pad(e n and pode n

Modern Form: puil
Older Scots Form: pule
Etymology: OE pōl, OE pyll
PoS: n
Definition: a pool, a pond, a small expanse of standing water; a pool in a river; (in Shetland) a small marsh, a patch of swampy ground
Modern Examples: Cockpool (Dumfriesshire); Boretree Pool (Kirkcudbrightshire); Piperpool (Fife); Alder Pool (Kirkcudbrightshire); Stirkpool (Dumfriesshire); Washing Pool (Kirkcudbrightshire)
Historical Evidence: Hum Pulles 1198-1214; Blakepol c1190; le Pulle 1359; Sloypule 1456; the pwll of Monboy 1458; Foull Poull 1557-78
SND Link: puil n; S2 puil n
DOST Link: pule, puil(l n

Modern Form: quarrel
Older Scots Form: quarrell, correll
Etymology: ? Latin quarrelia
PoS: n
Definition: a stone quarry
Modern Examples: Quarrelhead (North Lanarkshire); Quarrelwood (Dumfriesshire, Morayshire); Quarrel End (Kirkcudbrightshire); Quarrel Hill (Ayrshire); Quarrel Burn (Midlothian); Quarrel Knowe (Kirkcudbrightshire); Coral Glen (Ayrshire)
Historical Evidence: Quarelgate 1337; Quarelwode 1369; Querrellwod 1496; Quarrel Howe 1794; Corral Glen 1885
SND Link: quarrel n1
DOST Link: quar(r)el(l, quer(r)el(l n2; corrall; correll; quarrew, quarroue

Modern Form: quarter, wharter
Older Scots Form: quarter
Etymology: OF quartier, quarter
PoS: n
Definition: a fourth part (of a territory, sherrifdom, burgh, estate or land)
Modern Examples: North Quarter (Fife); Millquarter (Kirkcudbrightshire); Forresterquarter (Stirlingshire); South Quarter (Fife); Milnquarter (Stirlingshire); Quarterland (Kirkcudbrightshire); Westquarter (Stirlingshire); Quarter Wood (Peeblesshire)
Historical Evidence: le Quarter 1512; Wol-Quarter 1620; Mayne-Quarter 1620; Wastquarter 1631
SND Link: quarter n; S1 quarter n; S2 quarter n; wharter n
DOST Link: quarter, quartar(e n
Notes: Compare SND corter n and SND S2 corter n

Modern Form: queen, wheen
Older Scots Form: quene
Etymology: OE cwēn
PoS: n
Definition: a queen, the queen
Modern Examples: South Queensferry (West Lothian); North Queensferry (Fife); Queen's Park (Glasgow); Queenshaugh (Stirling); Queen's Seat (Fife)
Historical Evidence: Qwenys-ferry c1420; le quenys Hauche 1457; Quenis fery1480; Queen's Seat 1773
SND Link: queen n; S2 queen n; wheen n2
DOST Link: quen(e, quein n1

Modern Form: quoy
Older Scots Form: quy
Etymology: ON kví
PoS: n
Definition: a piece of land (originally part of the common pasture) which had been enclosed and cultivated as part of a farm’
Modern Examples: Quoy Sinclair (Orkney); Quoys of Reiss (Caithness); Mossquoy (Orkney); Quoy Park (Orkney); Quoyhenry (Orkney)
Historical Evidence: Sanct Margarettis quoy 1591; quoygrahame 1634; St Katharein's quoyes 1706; Castle quoy 1766
SND Link: quoy n; S1 quoy n
DOST Link: quoy n2; quy, qui n2
Notes: See also DOST quyland n and quoyland n

Modern Form: ra'en, raven
Older Scots Form: ravin
Etymology: OE hræfn, ON hrafn
PoS: n
Definition: a raven
Modern Examples: Ravenscraig (Aberdeenshire, Fife, North Lanarkshire); Ravensheugh Sands (East Lothian); Ravensneuk (Midlothian); Redden (Roxburghshire); Ravenshaugh Burn (Midlothian)
Historical Evidence: Rauendenam c1140; Rauenesfen a1190; Rauengille a1238; Revenysden 1275
SND Link: ra'en n
DOST Link: ravin, rawin, revin n1

Modern Form: rae, ray
Older Scots Form: ra, ro
Etymology: OE rā
PoS: n
Definition: the roe deer
Modern Examples: Raehills (Dumfriesshire); Raeshaw (Midlothian); Raeburn (Dumfriesshire); Rawburn (Berwickshire); Roebuck's Seat (Perthshire); Raegill (Dumfriesshire)
Historical Evidence: Rasawe 1208; Le Raahill 1456; Raa loch 1510-11; Reyschaw 1627
SND Link: rae n1
DOST Link: ra, ray n1; ro, roe n2

Modern Form: raw
Older Scots Form: raw
Etymology: OE rāw
PoS: n
Definition: a row of houses, of a uniform design and with common gables; cottages for miners or farm-servants; a street comprising such a line of houses
Modern Examples: Langraw (Fife, Roxburghshire); Angelrow (Berwickshire); Fisherrow (Midlothian); Dykeraw (Roxburghshire); Rottenrow (Glasgow); Potterrow (Edinburgh); Westraw (South Lanarkshire)
Historical Evidence: Mukeraw c1248; Bagraw 14thC; Kirkraw 1364; Curquhewraw 1375
SND Link: raw n1; S2 raw n1
DOST Link: raw, rau(e n; row n3
Notes: See also DOST Rat(t)o(u)n raw and DOST Routton raw

Modern Form: reid
Older Scots Form: rede, rid
Etymology: OE rēad
PoS: a
Definition: red or reddish in colour
Modern Examples: Redhouse (Fife); Redhall (Midlothian); Redpath (Berwickshire); Red Road (Glasgow); Redkirk (Dumfriesshire); Redwells (Fife); Red Liggat (Wigtownshire); Redheugh (Ayrshire, Roxburghshire); Red Moss (Caithness); Redhall (Dumfriesshire)
Historical Evidence: Redford 12thC; Redinch 1198-9; Reidfurde 1214-29; Rydnure 1348; Ridhalchis Mowse 1475
SND Link: reid adj; S1 reid adj; S2 reid adj
DOST Link: red(e, reid adj; rid, redd(e adj

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.)