Township: Greenhill

Map Reference: Greenhill 36

Name Type: shore

Meaning: This reconstruction has to be guarded in view of the single informant. It appears to be a prepositional name in either Gaelic or Norse.
A preposition is a word like under, towards or after that adds detail to the following noun. This can be in an English place-name, as in my home village Cley-next-the-sea; in Scots, as in the Orkney place-name Atween the Dykes (Sandnes 2010a, 336); in Gaelic, as in the Carloway name Cnocan ma Lèig 'the hillock by the brook' (Cox 2002, 28) and Loch Eadar Dà Bhaile 'the loch between two settlements' on Raasay (MacKay 2013, 191); or in Norse as in the Faeroese name Tangi á Barmi 'the point at Barm'. Prepositional names 'are unusual in Norway, but quite common in the Faroe Islands' (Sandnes 2010a, 147).
In either case, the final element *Lì is Norse: 'The common name element lee reflects ON hlíð ‘slope’ in most cases' (Sandnes 2010a, 78). The ending '-li in place-names is common' (Jakobsen 1936, 78); for example, there is an Aiths Lee in Fetlar and a Hesta Lee in Yell, Shetland (SP).
Sgeir mo Lì could thus be the Gaelic formation ScG Sgeir ma *Lì 'the skerry by *Lì (with *Lì as an ex nomine onomastic unit); or it could be the Norse formation sker melli hlíðar 'skerry between slopes'. In Orkney, Howenalidna may be haugrinn á hlíðinni 'the mound on the slope'; Quinamillyoar < kvína milli á 'the enclosures between the stream'; and Milahamer milli Hamra 'between hammer [shaped rocks]' (see Sandnes 2010a, 336). In Lewis Loch Mille Thòla comes from ON milli hóla 'between the hills' (Cox 2009, 18).
For a discussion of a Gaelic saint's name Mo-Liba, see Black 2008, 460.

Other Forms: Ma Lì - AS

Related Places:


Local Form:

Languages : Gaelic

Informants: Alasdair Sinclair, Greenhill, 10/1993