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Glossary of Gaelic origins of place names in Britain

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 Scottish Gaelic in place names, pronunciation and spelling can be found in the accompanying brief introduction to the Gaelic language, with reference to place names .

This is a glossary of the elements from Scottish Gaelic most frequently found in the place names of Britain. The meaning given is that which occurs in place names. Examples (with grid references) are given for each element.

There are usually three forms given for each noun: the first form is the basic form, called the nominative singular; the second form is the genitive singular; while the third form is the plural.


adj=adjective nm=noun masculine
f=feminine nmf=noun sometimes used in masculine and in feminine
g=genitive num=number
m=masculine pl=plural
nf=noun feminine pr=preposition

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© Ordnance Survey 2019