The Scottish towns and villages with names only Scots know how to pronounce

Milngavie is the starting point for the West Highland Way, which ends in Fort William
-Credit: (Image: Handout)

Scotland has a history and a culture that has been shaped over centuries by its native people and the settlers from other lands that come and call our great country home.

We currently have three official languages - English, Gaelic, and Scots - which highlights the cultural variety across the nation, and our past has been shaped by traditions from other ancient societies, such as the Celts, the Picts, and the Norse.

The differences these many cultures bring to Scotland is quite apparent in our place names, with villages, towns, and cities reflecting the make-up of its early natives.

The Gaelic influence has given us 'Inver' (meeting of the waters) and 'Dun' (fortress) as prefixes, while 'Aber' (river mouth) is Pictish and the suffix Wick (bay) is Norse.

While this melting pot gives great diversity to Scottish place names - it does make some of them rather tricky to pronounce, especially to visitors. So we've looked at some of the villages and towns that people find hardest to say correctly.


Let's start with a short one - the shortest in the UK, to be exact. It may be strange to see a name so small, but the pronunciation of this Dumfries and Galloway village is actually fairly simple: it's 'Eh'.


Staying in the south of the country, we move to the Borders town of Hawick. Its is usually elongated by those unsure of how to pronounce it, when it should be said in one swift syllable: 'Hoyk'.


One of our favourites, and one that will confuse many visitors driving into Scotland from south of the border, as it features on the first road signs on the M6/M74.

The village was named after a "small church" from the Middle Ages dedicated to St Fechan, and it is the birthplace of Scottish philosopher Thomas Carlyle. It is pronounced: 'Eck-el-fech-an'.


Its location near the iconic Loch Lomond makes this place fairly well-known among visitors, but pronunciation can still be an issue. Many go for the obvious - and incorrect - split into two words: 'Dry-men', when in actuality it is 'Drimin'.


Home of Raith Rovers FC - much easier to say than their location itself - Kirkcaldy is known as 'The Lang Toun' due to its impressively lengthy main street. And while one might assume that its name should be said as it appears, it is pronounced: 'Kir-caw-dee'.


Probably the most famous one on this list, likely down to both its proximity to Glasgow and it being one of the least phonetic place names in the UK. It is a regular source of amusement to those that live in or around Milngavie to hear people talk of 'Mil-en-gavie', when they, of course, mean: 'Mull-guy'.


There aren't too many Scottish places including a Z - and it's actually a silent letter in this Milngavie castle and country park. Don't be fooled into saying 'Cull-zeen', this stunning sight is actually pronounced 'Cull-ane'.

Culzean Castle on the Ayrshire coast
A sign for Ecclefechan shortly after crossing the border into Scotland

Leaving the mainland for a moment, this whisky haven can be found off the west coast. Boasting a number of incredible distilleries, it is a must for fans of Scotland's national drink. But if you are making the journey, make sure you don't fall into the trap of saying 'Is-lay', when you mean: 'Eye-lah'


A charming fishing village that has since been swallowed up by Aberdeen, it still boasts a proud history and stunning views of the North Sea. Its name is pronounced: 'Fittie' - something that is apparent when you visit and see places such as the Fittie Bar and the Fittie Community Hall.


While many might attempt 'Ga-ree-ock' when trying to speak about this Aberdeenshire town, the true pronunciation in the local Doric dialect is: 'Gee-ree'.


Outlander fans might recognise this beautiful Fife village as the fictional Cranesmuir in the early seasons of the fantasy drama. Anyone looking to visit to see the sights of the show should make sure they know to say 'Coo-riss' correctly.


Found near the atmospheric Glen Coe, this Lochaber village's name often poses a hurdle for non-locals. The correct pronunciation is: 'Bal-a-hool-ish'.

Ballachulish Bridge crosses the narrows between Loch Leven and Loch Linnhe
Culzean Castle on the Ayrshire coast -Credit:Getty

The name of this scenic Lanarkshire village can cause a bit of confusion among visitors, since its pronunciation goes against similarly-named locations. In this case, you ignore the word 'Strath' and pronounce it: 'Stray-vin'.

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