Islay was probably recorded by Ptolemy as Epidion, the use of the "p" suggesting a Brythonic or Pictish tribal name. In the seventh century Adomnán referred to the island as Ilea and the name occurs in early Irish records as Ile and as Íl in Old Norse. The root is not Gaelic and of unknown origin. In poetic language Islay is known as Banrìgh Innse Gall, or Banrìgh nan Eilean usually translated as "Queen of the Hebrides" and Eilean uaine Ìle – the "green isle of Islay" A native of Islay is called an Ìleach, pronounced .
The obliteration of pre-Norse names is almost total and place names on the island are a mixture of Norse and later Gaelic and English influences. Port Askaig is from the Norse ask-vík, meaning "ash tree bay" and the common suffix -bus is from the Norse bólstaðr, meaning "farm". Gaelic names, or their anglicised versions such as Ardnave Point, from Àird an Naoimh, "height of the saint" are very common. Several of the villages were developed in the 18th and 19th centuries and English is a stronger influence in their names as a result. Port Charlotte for example, was named after Lady Charlotte Campbell, daughter of the island's then owner, Daniel Campbell of Shawfield.
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