|Suggested Meaning:||‘water course’|
|1. Welsh afon ‘water course’|
|2. Gaelic abhainn ‘water course|
|Blaeu Coila (1654):||Afton R.|
|OS Names (1855-1857):||Afton Water|
|Location:||OS Map Six-inch Scotland 1888-1960|
|Other Early Forms|
|Achtoun flu. (Blaeu Atlas, Nithia 1654))|
Immortalised by Robert Burns as ‘Sweet Afton’, the Afton Water flows gently down the picturesque Glen Afton and on through the centre of the village of New Cumnock before joining with the River Nith. The name afton simply means ‘water-course, river’ and derives from one of the common Celtic forms as summarised by W.F.H Nicolaisen .
- afon (Welsh, Cumbric)
- abhainn (Gaelic)
- abann (Old Irish);
- auon (Cornish, Breton)
- abona (Gaulish)
The name Afton appears to be of Welsh, Cumbric origin as opposed to Gaelic that tends to yield the harder sounding ‘v’ containing names such as Avon in Avondale, now Strathaven (i.e. an equivalent of Glen Afton) .
The element water when applied to a water-course, as in Afton Water, is in Scotland indicative of a water-course that is smaller than a river but grander than a burn or ‘pol-‘. However, the element is little used locally and the river is simply known as ‘the Afton’ and Glen Afton is simply ‘up Afton’.
The Rev. James Johnston  suggests Afton Water, New Cumnock is probably Gaelic abh don ‘brown stream‘, far removed from Burns ‘crystal stream’.
| W.F.H. Nicolaisen |Scottish Place-names (1976)|
| James B. Johnston |Place-names of Scotland 3rd Edition (1934)|
|By Permission of National Library of Scotland|
|Map 1 | Blaeu Atlas of Scotland (1654), Coila Provincia|
|Map 2 | Blaeu Atlas of Scotland (1654), Nithia Vicecomitatus|
|Ordnance Survey Names Book|
|By Permission of Scotland’s Places|
|Ayrshire OS Name Books (1855-57) | Afton Water|