The Scots origins of place names in Britain

Find the original meanings of British place names that use Scots source words with this extensive list of terms, along with pronunciation.

See also Scandinavian, Gaelic and Welsh

Introduction to Scots

Scots is the name for the language of lowland Scotland. It is a Germanic language, closely related to English. It developed from the northern Old English (or Old Northumbrian) that was introduced into south-east Scotland (south of the Forth) from the 7th century AD onwards, as the kingdom of Northumbria expanded northwards. It was reinforced later by northern English that had been exposed to strong Norse influence after the Norse (Danes and Norwegians) occupied what is now Yorkshire and Cumbria. It started to be more widely spoken in eastern Scotland, north of the Forth, in the 12th century; by the early 15th century it was well established as the language of the Scottish court and parliament; and by the end of the middle ages (that is by about 1500) it had superseded Gaelic in almost all the southern and eastern lowlands. It was introduced into the Northern Isles (Orkney and Shetland) in the later middle ages, and by the 18th century it had superseded the local Norse language (Norn), which, however, has left its strong mark on the Scots spoken in those islands.

When it was first introduced into Scotland north of the Forth the language now known as Scots was described as ‘Inglis’, and it did not start being described as ‘Scottis’ until the late middle ages. In southern Scotland (south of a line running between the Firths of Clyde and Forth) it is sometimes difficult to distinguish place names that were coined in the post-1100 period from those that date from the earlier Northumbrian occupation, which are referred to as Old Northumbrian, Old English, or Anglian.

While the bulk of the more important place names in the Scottish Lowlands, such as those of settlements and parishes, are either of Celtic origin (Gaelic, Pictish, British), or, in the south-east, of Old Northumbrian origin, Scots place names predominate on detailed maps of almost any part of this Lowland area. This is because most of the surviving names of the smaller hills, burns, bogs and other minor features, as well as later settlements, were coined within the Scots-speaking period. This applies especially to divisions of older estates or landholdings that have adjectives known as ‘affixes’ attached to them to describe the various divisions. Typical affixes are west(er), east(er), nether, laigh, heich or high, over, meikle, and so on. All of these are Scots, but mostly attached to place names that are much earlier. Such affixes usually describe the position or size of different divisions of a settlement-area relative to each other. However, they can also describe the nature of the land typical of the particular division. For example, the extensive lands of Cairnie (a Celtic name) north of Cupar in Fife were divided early in the Scots-speaking period and have come down to us with Scots affixes such as Hillcairnie NO3618, Lordscairnie NO3517, Myrecairnie NO3617, and Newcairnie NO3519. More typically, and probably of slightly later date, the various features of the divisions of an old holding are expressed by such Scots compound nouns as ‘Hilton (hilltoun) of’, ‘Bogton (bogtoun) of’, ‘Newton (newtoun) of’, as in Hilton of Culsh NJ8748, Aberdeenshire. Hilton of Culsh distinguishes it from other divisions of the lands of Culsh such as South Culsh NJ8847 (Scots south), Mains of Culsh NJ8848 (Scots mains of) and Milton of Culsh NJ8848 (Scots milntoun of).

The high number of Scots place name elements in names on modern maps of the Scottish Lowlands is obscured by two factors. Firstly, because of their close relationship, there are many elements that Scots shares with English, more precisely Scottish Standard English, the standard form of the English language spoken in Scotland. Because of the cultural and political dominance of English over the last few centuries it is often assumed that a place name element that is the same as English is English, when it is in fact Scots. Elements such as hill, side, and field, are as Scots as burn, brig, and brae, and belong to the very earliest layer of Scots place names. In areas of Northumbrian occupation (especially East Lothian and the eastern Borders) names with such elements as hill, side, field could even be as early as the 7th or 8th century.

The other factor that has obscured the high number of Scots place name elements on modern maps is the strong English influence on the written language over recent centuries. This was reinforced by the fact that when the Ordnance Survey first surveyed Scotland in the 19th century the language mould into which it was cast was Standard English rather than Scots. The result of all this has given a spurious, and often misleading, English veneer to Scottish place names. For example, places ending in Scots haugh have often been depicted as hall, or similarly the Scots word fa(w) rendered as fal. It has led to uncertainty as to whether a place name coined in the last 200 or so years should be defined as Scots or Scottish English.

Structure of Scots place names

Place names can consist of a single generic element, usually a noun, either in the singular or the plural (Knowe NJ2835, Kaims NT2768). These are sometimes preceded by the definite article ‘the’ (The Bught NX8782). Most place names, however, are made up of more than one element, with a linguistic relationship between the elements. The closest relationship between two elements is known as a compound noun, two words put together to form a new word, which is then used as a place name. Examples of this are hatto(u)n ‘farm or settlement at or with a hall or main residence’, made up of Scots hall or ha ‘hall’, ‘main residence’ and Scots toun ‘farm’, ‘settlement’; hil(l)toun ‘farm or settlement on a hill or upland’, made up of Scots hill and Scots toun; and milntoun ‘mill farm or mill settlement’, ‘milton’, made up of Scots miln ‘mill’ and Scots toun. In effect these can be treated as single generic elements.

The generic can also be qualified by:

  • an adjective, such as black in Blackford NN8909;
  • another common noun put before the generic, such as bow ‘cattle’ in Bowmuir NS9942;
  • a proper noun put before the generic, either a personal name, such as Thomas in Thomaston NS2409 or Mary in Maryhill NS5569 or an existing place name, such as Earnock in Earnock Burn NS6954; and
  • a place name put after the generic (with or without the definite article), followed by of (often reduced to o), such as of Bute in Kyles of Bute NR9966 or o Muckhart in Yetts o Muckhart NO0001.

The element qualifying a generic element is called a qualifying or specific element. An element can be generic or specific, depending on how it is used in a name. For example, in Blackford NN8909 black is the specific, ford is the generic element; whereas in Fordmouth NS9850 ford it is the specific, mouth the generic element.

Scots and Gaelic

Scots and Gaelic have coexisted for many centuries, with Scots superseding Gaelic in the Lowlands in a long and gradual process. This means that many Gaelic words have been borrowed into Scots, a borrowing that is especially strong when it comes to topography or descriptions of landscape. Examples of such Scots words borrowed from Gaelic that are still in use, or at least recognisable even to non-Scots today, are ben, corrie, glen, loch, and strath.

Scots spelling and pronunciation

There is no generally accepted correct way to spell Scots, and it tends to vary by region, reflecting local pronunciation. For example, the vowel that in central Scotland is pronounced as a long open o (as Standard Scottish English awe) is pronounced in north-east Scotland as a long open a (as in Standard Scottish English shah, bra). The spellings haw and haa reflect this, and ha is commonly used to cover both. In earlier writing an apostrophe will be found in such words, for example, ha’, to indicate the loss of ll, but this is no longer acceptable. In general the glossary has taken as its headword the main form found in the Concise Scots Dictionary, giving alternative forms as well as cross references. This dictionary is derived from two major works, the 12-volume Dictionary of the Older Scottish Tongue (Scots before 1700) and the 10-volume Scottish National Dictionary (Scots after 1700). These two very important dictionaries are now available in an easily accessible form on the Dictionary of the Scots Language web site (www.dsl.ac.uk).

Vowels

One of the chief features of Scots vowels (as well as the vowels of Standard Scottish English) is that certain vowels are pronounced as a single sound (known as a monophthong), not two sounds put together (known as a diphthong), which is the case in South British Standard English (including English Received Pronunciation). If there is nobody around, say out loud, slowly, how the Queen would say ‘boat’: you will hear (at least!) two different vowels in there. In Scots the same word is pronounced with one single vowel, which can be described as a closed o, very much the sound of the German oo in Boot (‘boat’). In fact, the vowels of Scots are much closer to those of standard German than they are to those of South British Standard English.

Bearing all this in mind, it should be straightforward for anyone familiar with Standard English spelling to be able to pronounce all the vowels in the Scots elements in this index. However, the following should be noted:

  • ow and ou: ow is pronounced as in Scottish Standard English ow in ‘how’; ou is pronounced as in Scottish Standard English oo in ‘look’, though sometimes it is pronounced ow, with doup generally pronounced ‘dowp’, and loup pronounced as ‘lowp’.

Consonants

With a few exceptions, the pronunciation of Scots consonants presents no difficulty to the speaker of most forms of British English. The exceptions are:

  • ch and gh are both used indiscriminately to represent the guttural sound, well known in the Scottish English pronunciation of ‘loch’. Thus the final consonant of Scots laigh ‘low’ is pronounced the same as the final consonant in Scots loch, but is written both as laigh and laich.
  • r is always pronounced, unlike in most forms of English English, where it is no longer heard as r after vowels.
  • wh is pronounced something like hw; Scots (as well as Scottish Standard English) is careful to distinguish between wh and w, which in many forms of English have fallen together as w.

Scots place names glossary

Place names are made up of components which are referred to as elements. These elements are simply the words people used to describe a place or their response to their environment. A more complete background to Scots in place names, pronunciation and spelling can be found preceding Introduction.

This is a glossary of the elements from Scots most frequently found in the place names of Britain. It does not claim to be a comprehensive list of Scots elements found in Scottish place names, but it can claim to be the most comprehensive to date. Some elements which are the same as English have not been included. The meaning given is that which occurs in place names. Examples (with grid references) are given for each element.

Abbreviations:

adj = adjective
n = noun

ElementMeaningExamples
aller nalderAller Dean NT9847, Allershaw Burn NS9611
auld adjoldAuld Byres NS4219, Auld Mill NO4862
balk nalternative form of baulkHowbalk NU0513
baud nthicket, thickly growing gorseBauds of Cullen NJ4766, Birkenbaud NO7296
baulk nunploughed rig in a cultivated field ofen used as a boundaryBaulk Hill NO0709, Baulk of Struie NO0709
bell ntop of a hill, highest part of a slope; bell-shapedBell Craig NS5583, Bell Hill NY5397
belt nnarrow plantationBelt Hill NX6679, Belt of Muirtack NJ9938
bent nopen ground or sandy hillocks covered with coarse, rush-like grassBent NO6972, Bent Bridge NS4359
bicker nfight, quarrelBicker Bridge NJ5959, Bicker Burn NJ6058
bield nplace giving refuge or shelterBieldside NJ8802, Craigy Bield NT1756
biggin nbuildingLangbigging HY7644, Midbigging HY5103
bink nledge in a cliff, shelfBinks Hill NT4103, Black Binks NO2565
birk nbirch-treeBraes of Birkenhills NJ7445, The Birks NJ7261
bog nmorass, bogBruntshielbog NY4082, Dean Mill Bog NT7571
bonnet nsof flat hatThe Bonnets NN8751, Blue Bonnet Hill NH5038
bonnie adjsee bonnyBonnie Doune NK0364, Bonnie View NT9550
bonny adjbeautiful, pretty, handsome, attractiveBonny Braes NX0669, Bonnyside NJ7915
boo nmanor house, village (used in Northern Isles and parts of Caithness)Boo Breck HY2716
bought nsheepfold; curve, bend HighBoughthill NY7886, The Bought HY5608
bow ncattleBowfield NS3958, Bowhouse NO2610
bracken nfernBracken Gill NY2994, Brackenhill NN9114
brae nslope of a hill; uplands (in plural form)Brackeny Brae ND2349, Braes of Coul NO2857
braid adjbroadBraid Bog NJ4218, Braidhaugh NT5910, Braid Cairn NO4287
brewster nbrewerBrewster’s Burn NS8208, Brewsterwells NO4809
brig nbridgeBrig o’Turk NN5306, Blackburn Brig NJ8744
broch ncircular prehistoric towerBroch of Borwick HY2216, Oxtro Broch HY2526
brock nbadgerBrock Burn NS5259, Brockholes NJ6307
broo nbrow of a hill, overhanging bank of a hillBroo Gill HU2678
brow nsee brooThrow Brow NT1012, Wedder Brows NT2209
brunt adjburntBrunt Rig NS7208, Bruntland HU5142
bu nbullBu Hill HY2204
bucht nsee boughtBuchtrig NT7714, Bucht Slack NT0427, Bucht Burn NS5543, Bucht Sike NT7819
bught nsee boughtSheep Bught Rock NX7243, New Bught Hill NX1471, Todsbughts NS8372
burgh nScots and Scottish English spelling of borough, town (originally with a charter)Jedburgh NT6520, Edinburgh NT2876
burn nstreamNether Burn NS9308, Newbigging Burn NJ6108
burrow nform of burghBurrowgate HY6123, Burrowley NJ9834
butt nground disjoined from adjacent lands, strip of ploughed land, irregularly shaped ridgeButt Hill NS7714, Longmeadow Butts NT5435
cairn npyramid or pile of loose stonesMacbeth’s Cairn NJ5705, White Cairn NJ5931
cald adjsee cauldCald Burn NO2977, Cald Well NY5382
carlin nold woman, old manCarlin Burn NS5242, High Carlingcraig NS5639
carse nlow land along river bank, flood plainCarse Loch NX9184, Carse of Bayfield NH8073
caul nweir, damOld Caul Burn NY2371
cauld nsee caulNisbetmill Cauld NT6524
cauld adjcoldCauldwells NJ8056, Cauld Cleuch NT4601
causey ncausewayCauseyhead NS4346, Causeyport NO9198
chingle ngravel, shingleChinglebraes HY4208
clash nlarge hollow or cavity on hillsideClash Burn NO7892, Clash of Wirren NO4975
claver ncloverClaver Hill NY7479, Claver Sike NY7379
cleuch nsee cleughCorbie Cleuch NS8503, Chapel Cleuch NS8112
cleugh ngorge, ravine, cliff, cragCleugh of Tongue NX5253, Baron’s Cleugh NT1460
clif ncliff, clef, caveClifon HY5042
clint ncliff, crag, precipiceClint Burn NY7279, Clintlaw NO2853
close nenclosed land, farmyard, narrow alleyGreen Close NY2354, Howclose NX8775
cloy nsee cleughCloy Rig NX3281, Cloybank NS7779
coble nferry boatCoble Haugh NO0517, Coble House Point NO4619
comb nbosom of a hill, hollow in a mountain sideEast Comb NO7047, Lishaw Combs NY5984
corbie nraven, crowCorbie Craigs NS4509
corby nsee corbieCorby Linn NY5587
corrie nhollow on the side of a mountain or between two mountainsCorrie of Bellaty NO2460
corse ncross, market place, crossing placeCorse Burn NJ5507, Corse Sike NY3475, Corston HU3612
cot nsmall house, cottageSheepcot Hill NY0584, Washingcot Rocks NJ0852
cote, cott nsee cotEast Cote Farm NY1255, Woodside Cott NH8307
cotton nsmall collection of farm-cottagesCotton of Carnegie NO5241, Carriston Cotton NO3204
cottown nsee cottonNorth Cottown NJ7715, Upper Cottown NJ7615
cove ncave, cavernCove Harbour NT7871
cowper nhorse dealerCowper’s Craig NJ8266
craig nrocky placeSwallow Craig NS7310, White Craig NO2175
cran ncrane, heronCran Moss NX1033, Cranbog NJ8760
craw ncrow, pen, pig-styCraw Stane NJ4926, Craw Wood NY1379
crof nland of superior quality, kept constantly manured and under crop, smallholdingWestburn Crof NJ9420, White Crof NM9336
croo nsmall yard, sheep penBillia Croo HY2210, Croo Field HU2051
crook nfrom cruik: bend in a river, curved or crooked piece of groundAvoncrook NS9472, Crook of Devon NO0300
crooked nbent, windingCrooked Bank NS9010, Crookedshaws NT8025
cutty adjshortCutty Cleuch NY2279
dass nledge on a hillside or cliffGreen Dass NX9198, The Dass NT4750
daugh nsee davochDaugh of Aberlour NJ2842
davoch nmeasure of landEaster Davoch NJ4607, Davoch of Grange NJ4851
dean, den ndeep wooded valley (dean - south of the Forth, den - north of the Forth)Dunglass Dean NT7671, Easter Denhead NO2441
dess nsee dassDesswood NO5799
dod nbare hill with rounded topDeuchrie Dod NT6272, Friardykes Dod NT6569
dodd nsee dodDodd Sike NY7079, Great Dodd NY7992
doocot ndovecotDoocot Den NJ7863, Doocot Point HY4716
doup nbottom, end of anything, buttocks, backsideLittle Doups NJ8361, The Doups NT6536
drum nlong narrow ridge or knollDisdow Drum NX6156, South Drum NO5359
dub nsmall pool of water, puddleWaterless Dub NT2394, Davy’s Dub NS1855
dyke nstone or turf wallDeer Dyke NO6676, Dykefoot NO4781
easter adjeastern(-most), lying to the eastEaster Anguston NJ8201, Easter Balmoral NO2694
elbuck nelbowDeil’s Elbuck NX9393
eller nelderEller Bog NX9385, Ellerslee NX9785
fal adjsee fawFalkirk NS8781, Falfield NO4408
fank nenclosureFank Wood NS0878, Fank Burn NN7024
faugh nfallow groundLongfaugh NJ8322, Faugh NS9312
fauld npart of the outfield of a farm manured by penning cattle on it, foldShuttlefauld NO1109, Stane Fauld NX2768
faw adjvariegated, of different coloursFaw Hill NT6213, Faw Side NY3596
fell nrocky hill, hill-moor, high-lying groundFell Hill NX2990, Garheugh Fell NX2751
fey nsmall field, crofKirk Fey NX1238, Fey Wood NX8977
firth nestuary, inlet of the seaFirth of Tay NO3727, Firth of Lorn NM7628
flag nflagstoneHorse Flags HY4849, Fowl Flag HY5055
flosh nsee flushFlosh Burn NT5303, Floshknowe NY0076, Floshend NY3168
flow nmorass, peat bogFala Flow NT4358, Anderside Flow NS6233
flush nboggy ground where water lies on the surfaceFlush Hill NX0067, Tranew Flushes NS3407
foggy adjmossy, spongyFoggy Moss NJ4654, Foggyleas NO2414
forest nlarge area of land not necessarily wooded, originally used for deer huntingForest Lodge NJ0216, Garadhban Forest NS4086
forking ndivision of a river into one or more streamsThe Forkings NJ6421, Forkings of Raith NS2962
fowl nbird of any kindFowl Craig HY5054, Fowl Taing HU5179
frith nwood, clearing in a woodFrithfield NO5507, Frithbie NY2065
gair nstrip of green on a hill, patch of marshy ground in heatherGair Burn NY6279, Gair Shank NT2809
gairy nsteep hill, precipiceGairy Lochs ND4685, Kittlegairy Burn NT2741
garth nshallow shingly part of a riverGarthbanks HU3612, Garthdee NJ9103
gate nroadGateside HU2978, Canongate NT2673
girth nsanctuaryGirthgate NT5043
glack nnarrow valleyWest Glacks NJ6039, The Glack NH7856
gled nbuzzard, kiteUpper Gledfield NH5790, Gled Brae NX7893
glen nvalleyFriar’s Glen NO6879, Sma’ Glen NN9029
gore nstrip of land at the side of a fieldGore Bridge NT6942, Gore Moss NX9973
gote ndrain, ditch, narrow inlet of the seaTod’s Gote ND3544, Whitemoss Gote NS2958
gouk nsee gowkGouknest NS4047, Gouk Hill NS3482
gowk ncuckooGowkhall NT0589, West Gowkhill NJ9046
grain nbranch of a river, arm of a valleyWillow Grain NS8412, Wolf Grain NO4388
green nvillage green, grassy ground surrounding a houseWoodgreen NS3044, Allerdean Greens NT9845
grip nfrom gruip: drainMillgrip HY6123, Rough Grip NJ3605
gullet ngully, ravineGullet Spout NX9195, The Gullet NY4887
gutter nmud, mire, puddlesThorter Gutter NT0217, Black Gutter NX4185
hack nwild, rocky stretch of moorland or mossHack Field HU1756, Hackland HY3920
hag, hagg nhollow of marshy ground in a moor, hillock of firmer ground in a bogHag Brae NO5050, Hagg Dean NU1627
hally adjholyHallywell Rig NT6953
hame nhome, settlementCauldhame HU3938, Tyninghame NT6079
hard npiece of firm ground as opposed to a bogWester Hardmuir NH9456, Burn of Hardwall HU3769
hass nsee hauseKatie’s Hass NT2941
hatton nfarm or settlement with a hall or main residence (a combination of Scots haa (hall) + toun)Easter Hatton NO1947, Merryhatton NT5479
haud noverhanging bank of a stream, retreatHaudgate Hole NT8655, Haud Yauds NT8368
haugh nriver-meadow, level piece of ground beside a streamHaugh of Glass NJ4239, Haughhead HY4010
hause ngap, opening, neck of land, head of a passHause Burn NX8762
head nsee heidHerston Head ND4191, Heugh Head NO5098
heck nrack or grating for fodder, for drying fish, or across a streamHunterheck NT1004, Old Haiks NO6111
heid nhead, highest part of a valley, summit of a hillThe Deil’s Heid NO6741
hemmel nfrom hammel: covered shed for cattleBlue Hemmel NY7475, Hemmel Knowe NT7759
heuch nprecipice, crag, cliff, steep bankHeuch of Coul NN9712, Little Heuch Law NT7816
hip nprojecting piece of landLamahip NO5592, Hanginghip Plantation NY2473
hirst nhillock, knoll, barren, unproductive piece of groundNetherhirst NY4473, Sandy Hirst NT6379
hog, hogg nyoung sheepHog Burn NT3918, Hog Lairs NT9113
hole ncover, shelter, holeBrockholes NJ6307, Low Todhole NY6298
holl nsee howeEast Holl NJ1456, Holl Burn NO2103
hollin nhollyHollin Burn NT7803, Hollinsheugh Hill NU1519
holm nfrom howm: stretch of low-lying land beside a riverLyneholm Cleuch NY2791
hope nsmall enclosed upland valley, hollow among the hills; bayHopehead Burn NT1438, St Margaret’s Hope ND4494
howe nhollow depression, low-lying pieceof groundHopeless Howe NX3366, Howe Moss NJ7641
howie adjfull of hollowsHowierig NS8478, Howie Sound HY4631
jingle nsee chingleDeil’s Jingle NY2795, Near Jingle Sike NY4986
kail ncole, a variety of cabbageKail Yard ND4996, Kail Cairn NT3825
kaim nsee kameMaiden Kaim NO8883, North Kaim NS3461
kame ncomb, long narrow steep-sided ridge, crest of a hillBurn of the Kame HU4785, Easter Kame HU3788
kip, kipp nprojecting point of a hill, peakHyndhope Kip NT3519, Kipps Farm NS7366
kippie adjhilly, having kipsKippie Island NT8844, Kippie Knowe NT7716
kirk nchurchKirkhill NK0152, Kirkmichael NO0860
kirn nchurn, natural feature resembling a churnWester Kirn NJ2000, Auld Wife’s Kirn NT0500
knab nsee knapThe Knab HU4840
knap nhillock, knoll, rounded knob, lump, bumpMarnock Knap NO8277, Square’s Knap NO8183
knock nhillockBig Knock NT1017, East Knock NO4876
knowe nhillock, knoll, protuberanceLamb Knowe NS7917, Lang Knowe NS9830
kyle, kyles nsound, straitKyle of Durness NC3765, Kyles of Bute NS0472
lade nwatercourse leading to a millMill Lade ND3648, Distillery Lade NR3358
laigh nfrom laich: stretch of low-lying groundLaigh Drumdow NS2105, Laigh Riggend NS7669
laigh adjlowLaigh Hill NT1228, Laigh Wood NX1585
lair nmud, mire, bog, quicksand; place where animals lie down, enclosureHog Lairs NT9113, Nouts’ Lair NO7586
land nland, the fields, countrysideMeikle Kirkland NX8269, Woodlands NH8351
lane nmarshy meadow; sometimes English ‘lane’Rushy Lane NT0011, Shiels Lane NX1970
lang nlong, tallEast Langton NS4051, High Langmuir NS3941
latch nmire, swampLittle Latch NO4538, Latchfold NJ8146
law nround, conical ofen isolated hillLucklaw NO4120, Macbeth’s Law NO2034
lea ngrass-landOaklea HY4506, Rashboglea NJ8645
lee nsee leaNetherlee NS5758, Merrylee NS5659
ley nsee leaLangley NJ5156, North Whiteley NJ4347
links ngrass-covered dunesCullen Links NJ4967, Fisherrow Links NT3473
linn nwaterfall, cataract, deep, narrow gorge, shrubby ravineFlatt Linn NS6451, Furmiston Linn NX5992
lint nflaxLint Brae HY4006, Lintdub Moss NY2381
loan nright of way for stock to common grazing, lane, small common groundBraid Loans NY6477, Byres Loan NT3865
loaning nlane, bypath, right of passage for animals by means of a loanBrownrigg Loaning NX9976, Cadgers’ Loaning NY1288
lodge nhunting lodge, house, fishing-hutDrumbuie Lodge NO0344, Dryfe Lodge NY1893
lone nsee loanLone NJ0748, Moat Lone NT2602
loop nwinding of a river, lake or glenThumb Loop NX3386, Upper Loop NJ7544
loup nthe jump, the leap, narrow part of a river, small cataractWild Mare’s Loup NO7186, Black Loup NX3778
lug ncorner, recess, earThe Lug HP6317, Banklug NS4456, Blacklug NJ4137
mains nhome farm on an estateBuittle Mains NX8160, Carberry Mains NT3570
meikle adjsee muckleMeikle Auchrae NX6494, Meikle Cat Cairn NJ3515
mere nsmall poolMere Cleuch NT1008, Leishmere NH4040
mickle adjsee muckleMickle Corum NN8502
midden nrefuse heapWindydoors Midden NT4142, Blackmiddens NJ4226
mire npeat-bogBlackmire NJ1050, Bloody Mires NX5388
mirk adjdark, obscure, blackMirk Bank NY2791, Mirk Gill NY1199
moor nheath, unenclosed upland usually covered in heatherMoor of Dallachy NJ3663, Muckla Moor HU4367
moss nmossy ground, moorlandNorth Meiklemoss NK0331, Nutberry Moss NY2668
mote nmound, hillock, embankment, motteStraw Mote NS7917, Bardrochwood Mote NX4565
mouth nentrance to an enclosed place, mouth of a burn or riverPool Mouth NK1446, South Mouth HU6871
muckle adjgreatMuckle Burn HY3411, Muckle Ayre HU4655
muir nrough grazingBarr Muir NS5833, Blackiemuir NO6971
mull nheadland, promontoryBlue Mull HP5504, Mull Glen NX1331
nab nsee knapNabhill NU0046, Rock Nab NU1720, The Nab HU2148
ness nheadlandKinghorn Ness NT2786, Lamb Ness HY6821
nether adjthe lower-situated of two places, lowerMid Netherton NS5858, Nether Achie NX6277
neuk ncorner, projecting point of land into the sea, a remote placePark Neuk NJ1855, Roughneuk NS2704
nick nnarrow gap in a range of hillsSaddle Nick NS8203, Southerly Nick NT4038
nook nsee neukCraignook NY5178, Parknook NJ4722
noup nknobKame of Riven Noup HU3631, Little Noup Head HY5539
nowt nblack cattleNowt Bield HY2301, Nowt Rig NT1711
paddock nsmall farmPaddockfield NH5015, Paddocklaw NJ6661
pan nin coastal areas referring to salt pansPan Rocks NS3131, Salt Pan Bay NW9667
park nenclosure for hunting or agricultureFowberry Park NU0227, Parkhill NJ4460
path nfrom peth: steep track leading through a ravineStoneypath NT6171, Moine Path NC5155
peel nfortified tower (Borders), fence, stockade, palisadeLeitholm Peel NT7843, Peel Hill NT4628
peerie adjsmall (Northern Isles only)Peerie Breast HY4145, Peerie Hill HU5183
perk nsee parkPerkhill NJ5705
pike ncairn of stones on the highest part of a hillPike Cairn NT3424, Pikestone Sike NY6990
pin npoint, peak, summitPin Stane NS9410
plain nland free from trees, unwooded, piece of level groundBlowplain NX6677, High Plains NY4274
plea nquarrelPlea Moss NY2689, Plea Knowe NY2296
port nharbour, gate, gatewayPort Laing NT1381, Port of Rossdhu NS3589
pow nmarshy place, slow-running streamBogmill Pow NO2726, Carse Pow NX9859
pund nenclosure for animals, especially stray animalsGreen Pund HP6207, Lap Pund HP6107
pyat nmagpiePyat Cleuch NY1591, Pyat Side NT3737
pyet nsee pyatPyet Craig NX1386, Pyet Knowe NS2450
quaw nbog, marshEildon Quaw NT3512
rash nrushWhite Rashes ND3463, Rashfield NS1483
rashie adjcovered with rushesRashie Sike NT2312, Rashy Grain NO7485
raw nridge of ground, street, rowBlackraw NT0865, Cairnraws NX6274, Langraw NT5811
reesk nwet, boggy land, morassThe Reesk NJ4436
reisk nsee reeskReisk NK0556
rig, rigg nridge, long narrow hill, cultivated strip of landThrow Rig NS8811, Tod Rig NY4395, RiggendNS7670
risk nsee reeskRisk NS3759, Riskend NS7378
rispie nlong coarse grassRispie Cleugh NY5281, Rispie Lairs NT1412
rounall nsee roundelMarchfield Rounall NX9877, Beech Rounall NO0519
roundel nanything circularThe Roundel NN1404, West Roundel NS9646
row nsee rawStone Row NH9354, White Row NX3495
run nfrom rin: stream, land beside a streamChair Run NC7615, Well Run NC8704
sauchie nplace abounding in willowsSauchie Banks NY1396, Sauchie Wood NS5383
scad, scald adjsee scawdScad Cairns NO3160, Scald Law NT1961
scalp nsee scaupScalp Rock NG2963
scar nsee scaurScar Brae NY0984, Scar Point NY0065
scarf ncormorant, shagScarf Craig NJ2271, Scarf Rocks NC9666
scart nsee scarfScart Isle NR6320, Scart Rock NS2144
scaud adjsee scawdScaud Knowe NT9514, Scaud Law NT6801
scaup nbank for shellfish in the sea, infertile stony ground, small bare hillScaup Burn NY6599, Scaup Pikes NY6598
scaur nsteep, eroded hill, cliff face, long ridges running from cliff at low tideThe Scaurs NJ4738, Scaur Wood NJ7308
scawd adjhaving bare patches, bare of vegetationScawd Bank NY4393
scaw’d adjsee scawdScaw’d Fell NT1402, Little Scaw’d Law NS9104
score nsee scaurInner Score HU5145, Meikle Score ND2175
scree nmass of small loose stones on a steep hillside, narrow steep hollowScree Gully NO2774, Scree Road NC4300
scroggie adjcovered with stunted bushesScroggiehill NO1542, Scroggie Hall NX6779
scrogs nrough land covered with stunted bushesScrogs Field NT1841, Crossford Scrogs NX8388
scug nshelter, slope of a hillScug Wood NJ3642, Scuggate NY4474
seggy adjovergrown with sedges or reedsSeggy Burn NS5916, Seggycrook NJ5252
shade nsee shedSick Man’s Shade NO7262, Bradeshade NO7379, Broadshade NJ8107
shank nprojecting point of a hill, slope of a hillShank Glen NS2915, Shank of Auchnafoe NO5073
shaw nsmall wood, thicketShaw Wood NS4961, South Cowshaw NY0284
shed nstrip of land, distinct separate piece of landUpper Broadsheds NK0358, Bandshed Moss NJ7513
shiel nhut, shepherd’s summer shelterShiels NJ9319, Mid Foulshiels NS9864
shield, shieldssee shielShepherdshield NY7674, Shields Rig NT0453
shin nshin, ridge or steep face of a hill, projecting part of a piece of high groundWhiteshin NK1038, The Shin ND0822, Brown Shin NS9107
short adjlow, shortShortrighead NS8371, Short Hope NT3801
shot ndivision of landHeathershot NS7697, Cothall Shot NJ0056
side nhillside; also English ‘side’South Suttieside NO4651, Stony Side NT6458
sike nsee sykeBushy Sike NS7408, Tod Sike NY2984
siller nsilver, moneySiller Hill NJ6462, Siller Stane NT5532
sink nlow-lying area where water collectsBrierysink NS3053
skelly nrock, skerryBailiff’s Skelly NK0663, Black Skelly NO4182
skew ntwist, turn, state of ruinSkew Skerry HU3789, Skew Bridge NS6425
slack nhollow between hills, pass, pit, holeThief’s Slack NJ5421, Wain Slack NT6762
slag nmorassSlag Hill NS9880
slap npass, shallow valley between hillsSlap of Setter HY3415, Thunderslap Hill NJ3033
sloch nsee slockBerrysloch NO5894
slock nhollow between hillsThe Wolf Slock NX4589
slot npit, hole in the groundSlot Burn NS6832, Buittle Slot NX8161
smiddy nsmithySmiddyhill NJ9755, Backsmiddy NJ7745
snab nsteep, short slopeBuckstone Snab NT2469, Coldwell Snab NY4897
sneck nnotch, dip in the ground, saddle between hillsRed Sneck Burn NJ3123, Sneck of Corinch NO3564
snout nprojecting point of landBlack Snout NX9199, Burnsnout NH9456
souter ncobbler, shoemakerOuter Souter Cleuch NT8419, Souterford NJ7822
spout nwaterfall, boggy springSpout of Balbowie NS6487, The Black Spout NN9557
stab nsee stobStab Hill NX1472
stane nstoneThe Lecker Stane NO0803, The Nine Stanes NO7291
stank nditch, pond, moatThe Stank NT8128, Black Stank NJ2351
starry adjcovered in sedgesStarryheugh Farm NX9575, Starry Geo HY5237
stead nfarmhouse and buildingsLow Greystead NY7785, Lynestead NY5478
steel nsteep bank, hill-ridgeSteelend NT0593, Cockston Steel NT6671
stell ndeep pool in a river, enclosure for sheep, clump or plantation of trees, shelterEast Stell NT2983, Fir Stell NT5046
steps nstepping stonesFoulsteps NU0930, Black Steps NX3878
stey adjsteep, very steepStey Brae NX6679, Stey Fell NX5560
stob nstake, postEaster Stobwood NS9553
stot nyoung bull, oxStot Hill NJ5903, Stotfaulds NO4939
straik nlong, narrow tract of landBroadstraik Farm NJ8106
strand ngutter, channel, drain for water, rivuletWhitewell Strand NT9116, West Strand NS5905
strath nbroad flat river valleyGreen Strath NJ4320, Helshetter Strath NC9661
stripe nnarrow tract or strip of land, rivuletAuchmadies Stripe NJ3247, Black Stripe NJ4754
swart adjblack, darkSwart Howe HY5003, Swartmill HY4846
swine npigSwine Burn NU0811, Swine’s Cleugh NT3351
swire nhollow between hills, level place near the top of a hillSwire Knowe NT4700, Windy Swire NT4700
syke nmarshy hollow, esp. one with a stream, small burnThreepsikes NT0294, Ormscleugh Syke NT4651
tack nfarm, leaseholdingTackhouse NS6443, Upper Tack NJ8916
tae ntoe, branch of a drainBroad Tae NT0712, Hard Tae NT7607
taf nhomestead and its landEvertaf HY4551, Tafs HU6091
tail nlower end of a fieldLaidler’s Tail NU0737, Wester Tail HU5999
tammock nsee tummockCairn Tammock NX5764
tap nhead, hill, heapCraw Tap HU2550, Bruntwood Tap NJ6621
tappin npeaked top of a hill, cairn on a hilltopThe Tappins NX3596, Welltrees Tappin NS7504
tappit adjhooded, crestedTappit Knowes NS8202
thorn nhawthornEast Thorn HY4846, Hardthorn NX9477
threap,threep, threip n argument, disputeThreapland Wood NJ2959, Threepsikes NT0294, Threip Moor NX9595
tod nfoxLow Todhill NS4343, Tod Fell NX7959
toe nsee taeToe Head NF9594, West Toe HY5640
tof nsee tafColbinstof HU6193, Easter Tofs NS8635
toun ntownship, farmUpper Carlestoun NS6175, West Westertoun NS8667
trough nfrom troch: channel or bed of a river, valleyGreen Trough NS8911, Castletrough BurnNY0191
tummock nsmall hillockDogtummock NX9460
type nlow conical hillWhite Type NT0511, The Types NX5073
waird nsee wardBackwaird NJ7417, Swinewaird NO8680
wall nwell, wallWall Sike NY6099
ward npiece of pasture, division, beacon hillLittleward NJ5139, Brae Ward NS3158
water nstream, river, rivuletPow Water NN8919
wedder nwether, castrated ramWedder Law NS8828, Wedderhill NO8797
wee adjlittleWee Cleuch NS8806, Wee Doon NX4871
weel npool, deep still part in a riverWeel Pool NS4308, Barmuck Weel NS3106
wester adjwestern(-most), lying to the westWester Aberdour NT1885, Wester Bows NN7306
wham nbroad valley through which a stream runs, marshy depressionWham Rig NS6905, Gillwham NX9265
whaup ncurlewWhaup Crags NY6578, Whaup Knowe NX9793
whin ngorseThe Whin NT4739, Wester Whin NS8668
whinnie adjgorse-cladWhinniemuir NO1225
wiel nsee weelMcKie’s Wiel NX3776, Quaking Ash Wiel NX3775
wynd nlong, narrow lane frequently curvingCow’s Wynd NS7810, Stonywynd NO5614
yair nfish trapYair Hope NT4333
yard nyard, gardenCorseyard NX5948, East Grassyards NS2264
yearn neagleYearn Cleuch NS8807, Yearn Gill NT0120
yella adjyellowYella Moor HU4466
yett ngate, natural pass between hillsUpper Yetts NO0001, Whiteyett NY2494
yird nearthFox Yird NS6000
yonder adjmore distantYonderton NJ8452, Yonderhaugh NS9082

​Further information and references

Top image: Kyle of Durness at low tide © Copyright Dr E H Mackay, Creative Commons via Geograph Project

  • More information on Scots, Scots dictionaries, and links to other relevant sites, can be found on the Scottish Language Dictionaries website www.sldl.org.uk
  • As noted above, the Dictionary of the Scots Language website, www.dsl.ac.uk, brings together the Dictionary of the Older Scottish Tongue and the 10-volume Scottish National Dictionary
  • Details of books on Scottish place names can be found on the website of the Scottish Place‑Name Society/Comann Ainmean-Àite na h-Alba www.spns.org.uk

See the collection of guides to place names in Britain:

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