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When I try to google "gallows hill" I find only references to specific places named Gallows Hill. My question is, is it possible to use (lowercase) gallows hill as a description for an execution site in general, and say "the gallows hill" also about a place where for example beheadings took place? Or do you need to use "execution site" or "execution ground" (or something else) in that case?

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  • Not every gallows was on a hill. Commented Jun 1, 2022 at 16:22
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    gallows very specifically means "a framework used for hanging". Referring to a place where shootings or beheadings took place as a gallows anything will sound very strange.
    – stangdon
    Commented Jun 1, 2022 at 16:38
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    No, you can't. execution site, yes.
    – Lambie
    Commented Jun 1, 2022 at 16:52
  • Thank you very much Lambie, stangdon and Michael Harvey!
    – user444154
    Commented Jun 1, 2022 at 17:14
  • @Lambie That looks like an answer to me :)
    – Joachim
    Commented Jun 1, 2022 at 19:07

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Yes, it is possible.

I checked on Google ngram and while the usage you ask about is not exactly common, it does occur, especially in older texts. Here is an example, from The Baltimore Literary and Religious Magazine, Vol. 7, 1841:

My grandfather was a grown man at a period when the neighbouring proprietors could have dragged him from his cottage and hung him up on the gallowshill of the barony.

There are several other examples.

Looking across those, plus others where the initial letter “g” is capitalized, and where the word is either hyphenated or split in two, it seems clear that even when used generically, “gallowshill” is not synonymous with “execution site”. Rather, the former is a subset of the latter. That is, all gallowshills are execution sites, but not all execution sites are gallowshills.

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  • gallowshill written as one word?
    – Lambie
    Commented Jun 2, 2022 at 15:16
  • Yes, at least in the example I linked to. (It shows it hyphenated, but I can see from the ngram result that it is a single word.)
    – tkp
    Commented Jun 3, 2022 at 3:15
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    @tkp That is both interesting and useful, thank you, and also thank you for the tip about Google ngram!
    – user444154
    Commented Jun 3, 2022 at 8:49

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