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Kirk is a Scottish (and former Northern English) word meaning 'church'. It is often used specifically of the Church of Scotland. Many place names and personal names are also derived from it. Basic meaning and etymology As a common noun, kirk (meaning 'church') is found in Scots, Scottish English, Ulster-Scots and some English dialects, attested as a noun from the 14th century onwards, but as an element in placenames much earlier. Both words, kirk and church, derive from the Koine Greek () (kyriakon (dma)) meaning Lord's (house), which was borrowed into the Germanic languages in late antiquity, possibly in the course of the Gothic missions. (Only a connection with the idiosyncrasies of Gothic explains how a Greek neuter noun became a Germanic feminine). Whereas church displays Old English palatalisation, kirk is a loanword from Old Norse and thus retains the original mainland Germanic consonants. Compare cognates: Icelandic & Faroese kirkja, Swedish kyrka, Norwegian (Nynorsk) kyrkje, Danish and Norwegian (Bokml) kirke, Dutch kerk, German Kirche (reflecting palatalization before unstressed front vowel), West Frisian tsjerke, and borrowed into non-Germanic languages Estonian kirik and Finnish kirkko. Church of Scotland As a proper noun, The Kirk is an informal name for the Church of Scotland, the country's national church. The Kirk of Scotland was in official use as the name of the Church of Scotland until the 17th century, and still today the term is frequently used in the press and everyday speech, though seldom in the Church's own literature.
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