capital of Oman, from Arabic Masqat, said to mean "hidden" (it is isolated from the interior by hills).
"mouth of a river or valley, opening between hills," 1818 (in Scott), from Gaelic beul "mouth."
1727, from Latin tumulosus "full of hills," from tumulus "hill, mound, heap of earth" (see tumulus).
"wide river valley between hills," 1530s, from Scottish, from Old Irish srath "wide river valley," from Old Celtic *s(t)rato-, from PIE root *stere- "to spread."
"the hills of the fairies," 1793; but in Yeats, "the fairie folk" (1899), and in his use an ellipsis of Irish (aos) sidhe "people of the faerie mound" (compare second element in banshee).
Old English hyll "hill," from Proto-Germanic *hulni- (source also of Middle Dutch hille, Low German hull "hill," Old Norse hallr "stone," Gothic hallus "rock," Old Norse holmr "islet in a bay," Old English holm "rising land, island"), from PIE root *kel- (2) "to be prominent; hill." Formerly including mountains.
In Great Britain heights under 2,000 feet are generally called hills; 'mountain' being confined to the greater elevations of the Lake District, of North Wales, and of the Scottish Highlands; but, in India, ranges of 5,000 and even 10,000 feet are commonly called 'hills,' in contrast with the Himalaya Mountains, many peaks of which rise beyond 20,000 feet. [OED]
The term mountain is very loosely used. It commonly means any unusual elevation. In New England and central New York, elevations of from one to two thousand feet are called hills, but on the plains of Texas, a hill of a few hundred feet is called a mountain. [Ralph S. Tarr, "Elementary Geology," Macmillan, 1903]
Despite the differences in defining mountain systems, Penck (1896), Supan (1911) and Obst (1914) agreed that the distinction between hills, mountains, and mountain systems according to areal extent or height is not a suitable classification. ["Geographic Information Science and Mountain Geomorphology," 2004]
Figurative phrase over the hill "past one's prime" is recorded by 1950. Expression old as the hills is recorded by 1819, perhaps echoing Job xv.7. Earlier form old as the hills and the valleys is attested by 1808:
And this is no "new morality." It is morality as old as the hills and the valleys. It is a morality which must be adopted; or, we must confess that there are certain political evils greater than that of seeing one's country conquered. [Cobbett's Weekly Political Register, Feb. 6, 1808]
Cobbett's also had, on April 11, 1818:
However, thus it always is: "those whom God intends to destroy, he first makes foolish," which is a saying as old as the hills between Everly and Marlborough.
also ghaut, from Hindi, "a pass of descent from a mountain," hence also "mountain range, chain of hills," also "stairway leading up from a river" (to a shrine, temple, etc.), from Sanskrit ghattah "landing place," of unknown origin.
1560s, "freeman of a burgh," from Middle Dutch burgher or German Bürger, from Middle High German burger, from Old High German burgari, literally "inhabitant of a fortress," from burg "fortress, citadel" (from PIE root *bhergh- (2) "high," with derivatives referring to hills and hill-forts). Burgh, as a native variant of borough, persists in Scottish English (as in Edinburgh) and in Pittsburgh.
"range of hills or mountains," 1610s, from Spanish sierra "jagged mountain range," literally "saw," from Latin serra "a saw" (compare serrated), which is of unknown origin. De Vaan suggests a PIE *sers-h- "cutting off," and within Latin a possible connection with sarire "to hoe, weed." The word figures in many mountain-chain names in Spain and regions it explored and colonized.