Handout from Heritage talk( Gaelic Place names of the Area) on Sixth of October Twenty fifteen  given by Morag Macneil & Bob Main.

Gaelic words often found in place-names:

(Produced by Morag MacNeill, 2015)

Mountains/ Hills :

Gaelic. [Anglicised.] English.
beinn [ben]  –  mountain
meall            –  lump (round topped)
sgurr /sgor    –  jagged or cliff mountain
binnean/ bidean   –  with pointed top
creag  [craig]    –  rock mountain/ cliff
càrn  [cairn]      –  stoney mid-size hill
tòrr                –  a heap (piled hill)
cnoc [knock] –  hill
tulach [tulloch] – hill
tom                –  hillock
sìth(ean)        –  ‘fairy’knoll
druim [drum]  – ridge
uachdar [auchter] / àird –  height
mullach         –  mountain summit
bun/ bonn     –   foot/base
uaimh           –  cave
glaic             –  hollow
coire/ còs     –   corry/ hollow

Glens / moors/ slopes:

gleann                –   glen
srath [strath]       –  river valley
sloc [slochd]   –  pit
lag(an)            –  dip
dail            –  dale/ small glen
raon (pl. raointean)   –  open moor (range?)
mòinteach/ monadh/ blàr  –  moor (often peaty or wet)
frìth                –  deer moor
bealach/ làirig/ cadha/ gàg   –  a pass through hills
aghaidh/ aodann – slope face
sliabh / claon       –    slope
leitir               –    slope over water (half land slope)
learg(aidh)   –      flat surfaced slope

 Land/ fields:

tìr/ fearann/ talamh    –  land
leth/ trian/ ceathramh/ còigeamh – croft land divided (fraction)
peighinn [penny]   –  pennyworth land portion
dabhach [doch]     – old Scots land portion
achadh/ buaile /cluain    –  field
innis  [inch]            –     pasture land
leathad/ leud          –   sloped field (half slope)
lann [lyne] {obs}     – field(s)/ enclosure
crìoch    – boundary
gàrradh  –  dyke  (now also garden)
clais/ dìg  – drainage ditch
magh / gart / rath/ cluan   – older words for fields/ arable lands
liana(g)                   –    grassy smooth area / clearing
àilean                     –    green flat area
leas/ lios                –      an enclosed growing area/ garden
boggy area            –      feith/ musad/ poll/ miog /easgann etc etc

Water:

loch/ lochan         –  loch / wee loch
bruaich /bruthach – bank
tràigh/ cladach     –  shore
abhainn / uisge   –  river
inbhir                    – river mouth
abar                       –  river delta
sruth/ allt [ault]    –  stream/ brook
glais  (old word)  –  stream
feith            –  bog / bog-channel
eas / steall / caochan   –  waterfall/ spout
ath                        –  a ford
drochaid               – bridge
bàgh/ camas        –  bay
port/ cala              –  port/ harbour
sàilean                  –  sea inlet

 Settlement areas:

taigh/ both   –   house/hut
clachan   –   village (stone-built)
baile     –  town/ set of farm steadings
tuath(anas)   – farm
oighreachd  –  estate (orig. inherited)
dùn           –  old hill fort
crò          – cattle/sheep fold
eaglais / teampall /ceall [kil] – church buildings
ceardach (gobha)  – smithy (smith)
muileann      –  mill
àth    –   drying kiln

  Flora & Fauna:

  Animals –                                                            

Each/ capall  :  horse
Bò /crodh : cow/ bull/ cattle
Muc / caora  :  pig/ sheep
Gobhar  (goibhre) :  goat
Fiadh : deer  (damh : stag/ ox)

Madadh/ sionnach : hound/ fox
Cù (coin)/ cat  (cait)   :  dog(s) / cat
Coinean (coney)/ geàrr : rabbit/ hare
Broc : badger
Dobhar : otter

Eun (eòin)  : bird(s)-

Cearc (fhraoich) : (moor) hen
Fitheach : raven
Iolaire : eagle

Iasg : fish

Breac : trout  (also ‘speckled’)
Bradan : salmon
Geadas : pike

 

 Trees: (craobh)

Coille : wood

Darach / Feàrna / Seile   /  Beithe/  Giuthas/  iubhar  /caorann/ caltainn
Oak       Alder    Willow       Birch       Pine      yew        rowan    hazel

  Plants: (lus)

Fraoch / raineach/ droigheann / bealaidh/ sgitheach/ aiteann
Heather  bracken    thorn           broom    hawthorn    juniper

Feur :  grass
luachair : rushes
coille : wood
doire: grove
preas/ bad   :   a clump/ bush / thicket
còinneach   :   moss

Descriptive words:

Description (colour)

Glas / liath / gorm / dubh/ bàn /geal
Grey   grey   blue    black   fair / white

Buidhe/    odhar/      dearg /  ruadh / uaine
Yellow  dun(ochre)  red      russet     green

Breac  –  riabhach
speckled –  brindled
maol   –  bald

Description (appearance)

mòr / beag  :  big/ small
fada / geàrr :  long / short
àrd : high  (aird :  height)
garbh  : rough (Garragie/ Balnagarline)
caol (kyle) : narrow
Cas  :  steep
Tuath/  Deas/  Ear/   Iar
North   South  East  West

Descriptive words (from humans):

ceann [kin]  :  head
aghaidh/ aodann :  face
druim [drum]  : spine/ ridge
sròn    :  nose
beul    :  mouth
teanga :  tongue
uchd/ bràigh   : chest/ breast
cas     :   Leg / foot
duine – man/ person
bean – wife/ woman
nighean – daughter/ girl
mac  –  son
gille / balach – boy/ servant

 

Small grammar link words (often compacted within name):

a’,  a,  an,  na,  –  (of)  the   [singular]
na,  nan,  nam      –  (of)  the   [plural]

 

Word order:

usually:      (adj. after noun)
Big hill  =  beinn m(h)or
little town  = baile beag
short loch   =  loch geàrr

sometimes:     (adj. before noun)
short loch    =   geàrr-loch
rough face  =    garbh-aghaidh (Garragie)

 phrases:

the —-  of  (the)  something  =   first ‘the’ is dropped
(indeed Anglicised names often have any ‘the’ dropped or elided)
i.e.
The head of Loch(rannoch)  =  Ceann Loch Raineach [Kinlochrannoch] .
The Inver of Ness    =  Inbhir Nis  [Inverness] .
The fields of the dip  =  Gairt a’ Laig [Gorthleck] .
The fort of the Britons  = Dùn nam Breatann [Dumbarton] .
The hut of the withy-stripping  =  Both a’ Fhleasgainn [Boleskine]

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