Fife Place Names meanings and pronunciations

A website that goes a bit deeper into the place names is available here  Fife Place Names

I apologise to anyone who has taken offence at any of my pronounciations these were done in 1997 when this site started, after asking many people their interpretations. The OCH or AUCH in placenames was written as OCK as many of my overseas friends and people i have researched for could not get their tongue around OCH or AUCH much like LOCH and LOCK.*The original web page which has been copied by others and put online.

The information been researched by myself from several sources and the pronunciations are by local people from different areas of Fife.

Please give me a bit credit for time and effort and say where you got the information when using in Family Trees or Web Sites. TM

Place Pronunciation Meaning
ABBOTSHALL(abbots-hawl)A hall or residence of the Abbot.(in this case of Dunfermline.)
ABDIE(ab-di) Lands belonging to an Abbacy (of Lindores).
ABERDOUR(aber-dower)(aber-dower) Mouth of the Water.
ABERDOUR‘mouth of the River Dour’; aber (Brittonic) mouth, confluence; dobhar (Gaelic) water, stream.
ABERDOURMouth (aber,Brythonic Gaelic) of the water.
(Locals call it Enster)
(Locals call it Enster) A place abounding in streams.
ANSTRUTHER ‘the little stream’ ; an (Gaelic) the; sruthair (Gaelic) little stream.
ANSTRUTHER‘The (an) rivulet (struthair)’ .The mouth of the ‘rivulet’ forms the town’s harbour, effectively dividing the town in two.
ARNGASK(arn-gask) (arn-gask) Height of the pass.
AUCHTERDERRAN (ock-ter-derr-an)
(och-ter-derr-an) see Auchtermuchty.
Height of the oakwood.
AUCHTERDERRAN‘Top (uachdar) blackthorns (draigheann)’.
AUCHTERMUCHTY(ock-ter-muck-ti) for overseas readers who find it difficult to get their tongues around OCH.
for Scottish readers.
Boar’s height.
AUCHTERMUCHTY ‘upland for swine’; uachdar (Gaelic) upland; muc (Gaelic) swine.
AUCHTERMUCHTY‘Upper (uachdar) pig (muc) house (tigh)’.Some would make muchty one element ‘pig rearing’.
AUCHTERTOOL (ock-ter-tool)
(och-ter-tool) (see Auchtermuchty)
Of the river Tiel. Tiel is derived from tuil = torrent.
BALGEDIE(bal-gedi)‘Settlement (baile) of the narrow strip of land (gead)’.
BALLINGRY(bal-in-gray)Town of the garden.
(Locals call it ba’mirnie)
Merinach’s town, Merinach was the name of a companion of St.Regulus of St Andrews.
BEATH: (beeth)Birch Tree
BENARTY HILL(ben-arti hill)‘Mountain (beinn), high (ard),hill (Eng)
BLAIRADAM (blair-adam)Level clearing (blar) of (the) Adam (family) the family that included the famous Scottish architects and interior designers. The name was originally that of the estate; the village within it, established by William, father of Robert, was initially called Maryburgh (after William’s wife).
BRUNTON(brun-ton)Stream (burna), community (tun)
The name Buckhaven is probably from the Scots terms buck or bukk 'to gush out' and haven or 'harbour.'
(from Aidan Lyon).
BURNTISLAND(burnt-eye-land) Where the lands were set on fire for improvement.
BURNTISLANDmaybe ‘Burnet’s Land’ ; The origin of this name is obscure. There is a story which tells of a fire on a small island close to the shore, but this is not confirmed.
CAMERON(cam-e-ron) Crooked gap or pass.
CARDENDEN (car-din-den) Wooded (cardden, Brythonic gaelic) valley (denu)
CARNBEE(car-in-bee) Cairn of the peek.
CARNOCK(car-nok) Abounding in cairns
CARR ROCKS(carr-rocks)Boulder (carr, proto-Goidelic) rocks (Eng).The dangerous rocks lie 3 miles off the ancient town of Crail.
CERES(seer-iss)Enclosure for swine.
CERESobscure, but possibly ‘black water’ ; searach (Gaelic).
COLINSBURGH (colins-burra)illage founded and named by Colin Lindsay, 3rd Earl of Balcarres, in 1705.
COLLESSIE(cawl-less-i)(cawl-less-i) Back of the garden ground.
COMRIE(com-ray)‘confluence’ ; comar (Gaelic) confluence.
COWDENBEATH(cow-den-beeth)‘birch woods’ ; coilltean (Gaelic) woods; beithe (Gaelic) birch.
COWDENBEATHWooded (coilltean) (with)birch (beithe) The first element of the name is shrouded in conjecture.
CRAIGROTHIE(craig-rothi)Fell (creag) of the old fortification (rath)to the north west there is a suitably
CRAIL(cr-ale) Probably identical with the Irish name Cairill and the family name O’Carroll. See ELIE
CRAIL‘rock’; carr (Gaelic) rock; all (Gaelic) rock.
CRAILAncient town with a name more ancient than most : Boulder ( carr, pro-Goidelic) rock (ail, pro-Goidelic).
CREICH(cree-ik) Boundary or district.
CULTS(koolts) (kults) Plural of coille = Wood.
CULROSS(koo-russ)holly wood’; cuillenn (Gaelic) holly, ros (Brittonic) wood, point.
CULROSSA brythonic name; Holly (celyn) moorland (rhos)
CUPAR(coo-per) Back of the top.
CUPAR‘common pasture’; comhpairt (Gaelic) common pasture; partnership.
CUPAR the) Common (land) (comhpairt): that is pastureland held in common by local villagers,some people would prefer an older derivation.
DALGETY(dal-getti) Field of spears.
DUNBOG: (dun-bog) The word occurs in Dunbog(Dunbolg).In Gaelic “bolg” means a sack,but the probability is that the name is pre-Celtic.
DUNBOG:Fortified premises (dun) (on) a rise (builg).
DUNFERMLINE(dun-ferm-lin) The hill or fort of the winding stream or rivulet,and may refer to a small peninsulated hill in Pittencrieff Glen.
DUNFERMLINEpossibly ‘hill-land’ ; dun (Gaelic) hill, fortress, mound; lann (Gaelic) land.
The ‘ferm’ element may have something to do with tax exacted on the land.
DUNINO(dun-eeno) Fort on the uncultivated heath.
I have been checking more old books on Fife and in the 1857 Gazeteer of Fife, this first paragraph about Dunino might help you.
This is a parish in Fife; usually pronounced DUNUNIE; said to derive its name from a nunnery on Dunino Law; though I entirely concur in opinion with the talented Mr Leighton, who considers it to mean " a fortified hill."
DYSART(dye-sert) A place of retirement for religious purposes.
Its Celtic name Dys-ard signifies "the height of God" obviously indicating a place of religious worship.
DYSARTRetreat (diseart)
ELIE( eel-i) (Formerly known as The Elie) Several tribes in Ireland took name from an ancestor Eile,and the districts occupied by them came to be known by the same name the same name,each being distinguished by the addition of a family or clan name.
ELIEtomb’ ; ealadh (Gaelic) tomb; ayle (Scots) covered cemetery.
There was once such a cemetery at Elie. Some graves were filled with precious items and from this sprang the Gaelic for treasure ulaidh. Pronounced eely.
ELIETomb (ealadh),The place is the site of a formerly well known cemetery.
FALKLAND(faw-kland)Land of falconry; the ancient name of the parish is Kilgour.
FALKLANDpossibly ‘land for falconry’ ; falca (Old English) falcon.
FERRY-PORT-ON-CRAIG(ferry-port-on-craig) ferry-port-on-craig) A Ferry Port by the Craig (a Rock),Ferries used to run to Dundee.Now called Tayport. Thanks to David Beattie (b Montrose Angus)
FIFE(f-eye-f)Possibly ‘Path’ (fiamh)
FLISK:(flisk) Shore
FREUCHIE(fr-uk-i) or (fr-oo-ki)Heathery (fraochach)
GLENCRAIG (glen-craig)Glen (gleann) of the crag (creige)
GLENROTHES(glen-roth-es)‘fort of the glen’ ; gleann (Gaelic) glen, valley; rath (Gaelic) fort.
This is a new town with no glen.
GLENROTHESA made up name ‘Glen of the raths’Although there are raths (circular stone forts) in the area, there is no glen to speak of. In fact, even the raths are a red herring, for the reference is actually to the Earls of Rothes, who were local landowners, and thus also to the short lived Rothes Colliery in the vicinity.
GUARDBRIDGE(gard-bridg)yard bridge’
GUARDBRIDGEEnclosure (the same word as yard) Bridge (Eng), the first bridge over the River Eden dates from around 1420.
INCHCOLM, ISLE OF(inch- com)‘Columba’s isle’ ; innis (Gaelic) island.
INVERKEITHINGmouth of the Keithing Burn’ ; inbhir (Gaelic) river-mouth, confluence.
KELTY(kel-ti)Hard (caled, Brythonic Gaelic) The name is said sometimes to refer to water, although there are no major expanses of water anywhere near.
KEMBACK(kem-back)(kem-bak) Head of the Bend.
KENNOWAY(ken-oh-way) Head of the plain.
KENNOWAYHead (perhaps chief) (ceann) field (achadh) an earlier form of Kennoway was ‘Kennachy’.
KETTLE(kett-il)Cital is a diminutive of the Irish personal name Cet.
KILCONQUHAR(kin-nuck-ir) Wood of Cunuchar or Cunchar.This was the name of a thane of Angus.
KILCONQUHAR(Kin-uch-er) ‘Conchobar’s church’ ; eall (Gaelic) cell, church.
KILMANY(kil-many) (kil-many) Wood of Maine.
KILRENNY(kil-rennay)Ferny wood
KINCAPLE(kin-kapel)Presumably ‘Head(ceann) of the horse (capuill)’
KINCARDINE(kin-card-in)Head (ceann) of the thicket (cardden, Brythonic Gaelic)
KINGHORN:(king-horn) Head of the corner.
KINGHORN:‘at the head of the marsh’ ; cinn (Gaelic) at the head; gronn (Gaelic) mud, marsh. The name has been erroneously connected with King Alexander III, who died here after a fall in 1286.
KINGHORN:Head (ceann) of the boggy ground (gronn)
KINGLASSIE( king-lassi) Head of the stream.
KINGLASSIEat the head of the stream’ ; cinn (Gaelic) at the head; glas (Brittonic) water.
KINGLASSIEHead (ceann) of the stream (glas, Brythonic Gaelic) The town was once known as Goatmilk.
KINGSBARNS:(kings-bawrns) The Barns that King John had built ,close to his Castle.(thanks to KeithClark,South Australia)
KIRKCALDY(kir-kaw-di) The fort of Calaten.The sons of Calaten were famous magicians.
KIRKCALDY‘castle on the hard hill’ ; caer (Brittonic) fort, castle; caled (Brittonic) hard; din (Brittonic) hill, fort.
KIRKCALDYApparently Fort (caer, Brythonic Gaelic) (of the ) hard (caled, Brythonic Gaelic) stronghold (din, Brythonic Gaelic)
LARGO(lar-go) Sunny,seaward slope.
LARGO, UPPER and LOWER‘field’ ; learg (Gaelic) field, plain.
Alexander Selkirk, upon whose experiences Daniel Defoe based his story of Robinson Crusoe, was born in Lower Largo in 1676.
LARGOHillside (learg): the village is on a hillside of Largo Law and is split into Upper and Lower Largo.
LESLIE(less li) Garden of the Pool.
LESLIE‘garden of the pool’ ; lios (Gaelic) garden; linn (Gaelic) pool.
LESLIECourt (leas) pool (linn)
LEUCHARS:(look-ers) The great rushy place.
LEUCHARS:probably ‘place of rushes’ ; luachair (Gaelic) rushes.
LEUCHARS:Probably ‘(Of) Rushes (luachair): the place is not far from the estuary of the River Eden.
LEVEN(leave-in)The town takes its name from the river Leven.
LOCHGELLY(loch-gell-iThe town is named after the loch near which it stands: the name may mean ‘White (geal)’
LOCHORE(loch-ore)The town is named after the loch near which it stands: the name may mean ‘Gold (or).
LOGIE(low-gay) Hollow.
LOGIEHollow (lagaidh)
LOMOND(low-mond)Beacon from an old Brythonic Gaelic source (laomuinn)
MARKINCH:(marr-kin-sh)A corruption of the name MARCHING.
MARKINCH:‘horse meadow’ ; marc (Gaelic) horse; innis (Gaelic) island,meadow.
MARKINCH:Horse (marc) water meadow (innis)
METHIL(meth-il)boundary wood’ ; maid (Brittonic) boundary; coille (Gaelic) wood.
METHILApparently Boundary (maid, Brythonic Gaelic) wood (choille) but Old Scandinavian methal, ‘middle’, and note that the town is directly between the other, partly older, urban areas of Buckhaven and Leven.
MONIMAIL(money-i-mail)Shrubbery of honey.
MONIMAILPeat Bed (moine) of the rounded hill (mill)
MOONZIE(moon-zay)Long,sedgy grass.
NEWBURGH‘new village’ ; neowe (old English) new; burh (Old English) village, hamlet.
NEWBURGHNew (neowe) stronghold (burh)
NEWBURN(new-burn)Allied to the tribe Niduari.
PITLESSIE(Pit-less-i);(pit-less-ee);(pit-less-ay); (Pit-less-i);(pit-less-ee);(pit-less-ay); Pette+lios = portion abounding in good garden ground.
PITTENWEEMcave land’ ; pett (Brittonic) place, part, share (of land); uamh (Gaelic) cave.
St Fillan’s cave shrine is near Pittenweem harbour.
QUEENSFERRY, NORTH and SOUTHThe queen referred to is the 11th century Queen Margaret, King Malcolm Canmore’s wife.Ferries no longer cross here, and the traffic goes by the Forth Road Bridge.Part of the action of Robert Louis Stevenson’s Kidnapped takes place here.
ROSYTH(ros-eye-th)‘cape of arrows’ ; ros (Gaelic) cape, promontory; saighead (Gaelic) arrow.
ROSYTHHeadland (ros) of arrows (saighead)
ST.ANDREWS & ST.LEONARDS(s-aint-and-roos & s-aint len-ards)
ST.ANDREWS (saint andrews)
ST.ANDREWSThe town was first called Muckross (boar-wood), then Kilrymont (church on the royal mount), then Kilrule (church of St Regulus) and finally St Andrews after the church of St Andrew. It is now most famous as the ‘home’ of golf.
ST.LEONARDS(saint leonards)
ST.MONANS & ABERCROMBIE(saint-moan-anz) (aber-crom-bay)Locals call it saint minins) After the saint.
ST.MONANSThe town is probably named after Moinenn, the sixth century bishop of Clonfert.
SALINE(say-lin) A barn.
STRATHKINNESS(strath-kin-ess)Wide valley (strath) (of the) Kinness (Burn).Kinness Burn flows from minor uplands in the centre of Fife to the sea at St Andrews.The stream name means at the head of the cape.
STRATHMIGLO(strath-mig-low)The strath of the Miglo stream.
STRATHMIGLO‘valley of the boggy loch’ ; srath (Gaelic) valley; mig (Gaelic) bog; and loch.
STRATHMIGLOSaid to be Wide Valley (strath) (of the) marsh (mig), loch, although this presupposes the existence of a loch, where none is at present.
A thought to ponder is that the Irish (michlu) means(of) evil repute.
TORRYBURN(taw-ray-burn) Torr means tower like hill.
WEMYSS, WEST and EAST ‘cave, hiding-place’ ; uamh (Gaelic) cave.
There are many caves or weems on the coastline here.
Near East Wemyss stands the ruin of MacDuff’s castle.
WINDYGATESGO TO Fife-placenames.glasgow
WORMIT(worm-it) ‘the serpent’ ; worm (Norse) serpent, snake; and -et, which is the article. This is said to be the first village in Scotland with electricity.


  1. Thanks for your work and dedication, a friend sent me photos of Dunino and I was puzzled as to the unusual ending of the name. Keep up the good work. I also have had work pirated, a whole book no less, but at least they kept my name. My publishers were unable to help… Best regards

    1. I have been checking more of old books on Fife and in the 1857 Gazeteer of Fife, this first paragraph about Dunino might help you.
      This is a parish in Fife; usually pronounced DUNUNIE; said to derive its name from a nunnery on Dunino Law; though I entirely concur in opinion with the talented Mr Leighton, who considers it to mean ” a fortified hill.” TM.

    2. I believed Auchtermuchty meant ” The land of the boar”…What I learned was when Royalty were in residence at Falkland Palace this land around ”Muchty” was used for their favourite sport of boar hunting. When I bought ”The Queen’s Hotel ” in Auchtermuchty I renamed it ”The Boars Head” 1972/78. Great times !!

      1. My dad david Mcphail played his accordion and he had his dance band at the queens both my sisters got married at the queens hotel, most times my dad played with his band at the queens hotel, I was too young to go I was about 12 years old when my sister got married at the queens hotel , and my other sister I was only 4 years old we have a black and white family wedding photograph taken at the queens hotel I’m janice mcphail , now stewart .

        1. Auchtermuchty, you say the auch word not och , quite easy once you know how, in the Falkland history of the Tudor kings and queens who resided at Falkland Palace went out hunting to kill the boars for food, we had Wolves and lynx , and Wildcats , the old post office in Falkland my husband malcolm says had a glass case with the last wild cat shot in Falkland he remembers that xxxxxxxx

          1. Strathmiglo was divided in 2 one side the South of the river eden the other the North, the river was never called the eden it was called the Miglo. Xxxxxx

      2. muc (pronounced moochk, with the ch pronounced as in loch) is Scots Gaelic for a pig – a’ mhuc (pronounced a vooc) is the pig – mucan (pronounced moocan) is pigs – na mhucan (pronounced a voocan) is the pigs Anyway, you can see where the much in muchty came from (though pronounced differently)

  2. I’m assuming from the list of how to pronounce these names that the administrators of this page are not Scottish, e.g. “ock-ter-muckty” should be och-ter-muchty. The same rule applies to all the names containing the letters “ch”.

    1. This has been online since 1997, my own personal web site.
      Wrong Peter born and bred in Fife, with relatives in Muchty. I asked several people many years ago to say the names and I posted what their verdicts were at the time. I will alter the saying as you request but as others have said it really depends where you come from.

      1. I’ve no problem with people saying “ock”, I see now why you have put it that way but just thought if you weren’t Scottish yourself, my explanations might have helped others. No offence taken or intended.

        1. Peter no offence taken it is actually great that people like you comment and if any faults found or ideas to add things to my site, I can then amend or add, as it is my own personal site.

  3. You missed Buckhaven(Buck-hyne) – “The name Buckhaven is probably from the Scots terms buck or bukk ‘to gush out’ and haven or ‘harbour'”

    1. Thanks, Aidan, I have had this up 20 years and nobody has mentioned it before, my father in law was born there in 1914 as well.
      I have put it on the page. TM

  4. Tha mi air a bhith ag ionnsachadh gaelic airson beagan bhliadhnaichean. Bha mi airson ionnsachadh mu ainmean-àite. Tha mi air leth toilichte an làrach-lìn agad a lorg le ainmean Fìobha. Ailean

    I have been learning gaelic for a few years. I am to learning about place names. I am delighted to find your website on Fife names. Alan

  5. who in Gawds name wants tae know the origins o place names

    Bridge of Alan……river crossing belonging to Wilfrid father of Eck an alternative to Alan

    some people say the brig runs over the river Alan, a tributary of the Fifth or is it the fourth

    Ben Eighhe………….progeny of Ben Hen, nice, when runny, with sojers

    Sojer……man with a sword

  6. What has happened to Windygates. It’s nowhere to be found on the list of Fife place names. I was trying to find out the origin today, just out of interest. Can someone please fill in this gap.

  7. What has happened to Windygates. It’s nowhere to be found on the list of Fife place names. I was trying to find out the origin today, just out of interest. Can someone please fill in this gap.

    ps No I haven’t posted this question before !

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