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Northern English and Scottish: topographic name for someone who lived in a small hut or bothy, Middle English both(e), especially a cowman or shepherd. The word is of Scandinavian origin (compare Old Danish both, Old Norse buð) and was used to denote various kinds of temporary shelter, typically a cowshed or a herdsman’s hut. In the British Isles the surname is still more common in northern England, where Scandinavian influence was more marked, and in Scotland, where the word was borrowed into Gaelic as both(an).