A dale is an open valley. Dale is a synonym to the word valley, which entered the English language after the Norman Conquest. Norwegian towns frequently use this term: dalekvam, so dale. The name is used when describing the physical geography of an area. It is used most frequently in the Lowlands of Scotland and in the North of England, where the term "fell" commonly refers to the mountains or hills that flank the dale.

The word dale comes from the Old English word dael, from which the word "dell" is also derived. It is also related to Old Norse word dalr (and the modern Icelandic word dalur), which may perhaps have influenced its survival in northern England.[1] The Germanic origin is assumed to be *dala-. Dal- in various combinatins is common as placename in Norway. Modern English valley and French vallee are presumably not related to dale.[2] Currency unit dollar originates from Bohemia where joachimsthaler, simplified as thaler or daler, were manufactured.[3]

The word is perhaps related to Welsh dol (meadow, pasture, valley), Russian dol (valley, reverse side) and Serbo-Croation dolina (basin, doliner is used geological terminology about depressions in karst areas. There is semantic equivalency to many words and phrases, suggesting a common Indo-European affinity. Vale and thalweg are also related.

Word/phrase Language
dal Dutch
Tal, Delle German
dal Norwegian/Swedish/Danish
даліна (dalina) Belarusian
долина (dolina) Russian/Bulgarian
vale Romanian
dolină Romanian
долина (dolina) Serbian
dolec, dolek Slovenian
dalen Swedish
údolí, důl Czech
دره (dære) Persian

Examples of dales

The following are several examples of major dales that have the name dale. The river name is usually appended with "-dale". There are also many smaller dales; this is not an exhaustive list.


  1. ^ Oxford English Dictionary
  2. ^ De Caprona, Y. (2013). Norsk etymologisk ordbok: tematisk ordnet. Oslo, Kagge.
  3. ^ Falk, Hjalmar (1991). Etymologisk ordbog over det norske og det danske sprog. Oslo: Bjørn Ringstrøms antikvariat. ISBN 8252525482.