Names identify and refer to a single definite entity – a specific person, object, place, song &c.


Names can be classified into two grammatical types –

  • proper nouns – (capitalised) single words – Mairead fem. ‘Margaret’, Glaschu masc. ‘Glasgow’, Gairm fem. ‘Crowing/Calling [name of literary periodical]’
  • name-descriptions – (capitalised) specified common noun expressions – An Caiptean ‘The Captain’, Ceann Loch Chille Chiarain ‘Campbeltown, lit. The Head of the Bay of Kieran’s Chapel’, Òran na Cloiche ‘The Song of the Stone’.


Names can also be classified into a number of semantic classes, depending on the kind of entity being named –

  • anthroponyms – names (and nicknames) of individual persons – Seumas masc. ‘James’, Màiri Ruadh ‘Ginger Mary’, Am Bàrd Bochd ‘The Poor Poet [Norman MacLeod]’, Fear Chanaigh ‘The Man of Canna [John Lorne Campbell]’
  • toponyms – names of places – Sasainn fem. ‘England’, Alba Nuadh ‘Nova Scotia’, Am Ploc ‘Plockton’, Loch nam Madadh ‘Lochmaddy’
  • ergonyms – names of groups of people (teams, organisations, institutions, companies, tribes &c) – Misneachd ‘[name of pressure group]’, Alba Chruthachail ‘Creative Scotland’, An Comunn Gàidhealach ‘The Highland Society’, Bòrd na Gàidhlig ‘[name of government agency]’
  • chrematonyms – names (titles) of songs, poems, stories and other creative works – Gairm ‘[name of literary periodical]’, Am Bìoball ‘The Bible’, Òran a’ Phrionnsa ‘The Song of the Prince’, Faclair na Gàidhlig ‘The [Historical] Dictionary of Scottish Gaelic’
  • glottonyms – names of languages and dialects – Laideann fem. ‘Latin’, A’ Ghreugais ‘Greek’, Gàidhlig na h-Èireann ‘Irish [Gaelic]’
  • chrononyms – names of events and historical eras – An Cogadh Mòr ‘The Great War’, Bliadhna Theàrlaich ‘The Year of Bonnie Prince Charlie (1745–6)’, Linn an Umha ‘The Bronze Age’.