Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

Hide Quotations Hide Etymology Cite this entry

GEYLIES, adv. Also geyl(e)ys, -less, gye-, †gylies, †gaylies, †gai-, guy-, -lys; geylie, -ly, †g(a)y-, gai-, †gei-, †gie-, gae-, †gelly, and ¶geilans. [′gəili(z), ′gele(z)]

1. Also common in n.Eng. dial. Cf. Gey, adv. ‡(1) Followed by an adj.: pretty, very (Ayr. 1923 Wilson Dial. Burns 165; Abd., Ags., m.Lth., Dmf. 1954). Sc. 1690  Sc. Presb. Eloquence (1692) 114:
It's true, good Lord, you have done gelly well for Scotland now at last.
Sc. 1830  Wilson Noctes Amb. (1855) II. 371:
Blackguards . . . are aften gaily clever.
wm.Sc. 1838  Wilson's Tales of the Borders IV. 236:
A woman's bonnet . . . gaun fast doun wi' the stream, which was geyly swelled at the time.
Edb. 1850  J. Smith Hum. Sc. Stories 33:
It gangs geyless sair to an auld body's heart whyles.
Fif. 1873  J. Wood Ceres Races 15:
Ay! though he's auld and giely set, He is a dan neat dancer yet!
Ayr. 1879  R. Adamson Lays 147:
For workin' folk in bygane days Were geylies hard bestead.
Wgt. 1880  G. Fraser Lowland Lore 97:
Johnny had “tripped ower a mickle pot an' fell in the fire, an' got himsel' geyly burned”.
Dmf. 1912  J. L. Waugh Robbie Doo vii.:
John M'Andra keepit a horse and trap for his ain use in gaun roon his different jobs, which at times were geyly scattered.
Abd. 1931  D. Campbell Uncle Andie 4:
Yer bleid maun be geyleys thin noo. Fu auld are ye?

(2) Fairly well; pretty well, pretty nearly (Abd., Ags., Kcb., Dmf. 1954). Ayr. 1786  Burns Add. Beelzebub 33–34:
Your factors, grieves, trustees, and bailies, I canna say but they do gaylies.
Abd. 1787  A. Shirrefs Jamie & Bess iv. ii.:
It lang was fair, afore he thought o' ga'en, And gayly on to evening now was drawn.
Sc. 1874  A. Hislop Sc. Anecdotes 350:
“How do the people of the country treat you?” “Ow! gailies; particularly we that are Scotch.”
Mry. 1897  J. Mackinnon Braefoot Sk. vii.:
They'd letten't [drink] geylys ower — 'twis a Setterday's nicht, ye see.
Ags. 1921  D. H. Edwards Fisher Folks 163:
Wha lives langest sees the maist — I'm geylies abune eichty.
Rxb. 1923  Watson W.-B.:
She's gettin' on geyly amang the frem.
Abd. 1929  J. Alexander Mains & Hilly 150:
“Aw reckon ye'll hae't [corn] geylies cuttit”. “Weel, ay. Aw suppose anidder day wid see 's feenisht.”
Sc. 1941  Scots Mag. (April) 56:
Forbye, it bein near the November term, things were gyeless bye ootside.

2. Used predicatively: (1) Well enough, middling, tolerably well (in health) (Uls. 1880 Patterson Gl., gyly; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B., ‡geylies; Arg. 1936 L. McInnes Dial. S. Kintyre 28; Abd., geylies, Ags., Dmf., -ly 1954). Common in n.Eng. dial. Sc. 1721  J. Kelly Proverbs 400:
Bra'ly, finely, Geily at least.
Rnf. 1807  R. Tannahill Poems 18:
Peace to this biggin' — he, he, he, hoo's a? Gæly, a thank you — William come awa'.
Slk. 1818  Hogg Wool-gatherer (1874) 72:
“An' how hae ye been sin' we saw ye, Barny?” “Gaylys!”
Edb. 1844  J. Ballantine Miller xii.:
I'm geyly, brawly, Tam. An' how are ye, yoursell?
Bnff. 1866  Gregor D. Bnff. 61:
“Foo's a' your concerns the day?” “Thank ye, the're a' geilans an' brawlans. Foo's a' yir nain?”
Sc. 1870  A. Hislop Proverbs 102:
When a person says he is “gaylie,” Anglice, middling, he is understood not to be so well as he would like to be.
m.Sc. 1888  C. Mackay Dict. Lowland Sc. 68:
The common salutation in Glasgow and Edinburgh, “How's a' wi' ye the day?” “Oh, gailies, gailies!”
Abd. 1921  M. Argo Janet's Choice 21:
“How are you?” “Geyleys, geyleys.”

(2) Slightly intoxicated, “merry”. Also in Eng. dial. Also in phr. gaylie to live, id. (cf. Ork. quot. s.v. Gey, adv., 1.). Sc. a.1776  D. Herd Sc. Songs II. 121:
We're gayly yet, and we're gayly yet, And we're no very fou, but we're gayly yet.
ne.Sc. 1836  J. Grant Tales 66:
Farmers met at the ale in a public house . . . and they swiggit awa' at the pith o' the maut, till they waur a' gaylie to live.

[From Gey, + suff. -ly, etc., the forms with -s showing the old adv. gen. ending (cf. brawlies s.v. Brawly). In the form geilans the suff. = -lings.]

You may wish to vary the format shown below depending on the citation style used.

"Geylies adv.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 20 Oct 2018 <>



Try an Advanced Search

Browse SND:

Browse Up
Browse Down