Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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GARDYLOO, int. Also gardeloo, jordeloo. “A cry which servants in the higher stories in Edinburgh give, after ten o'clock at night, when they throw their dirty water, etc. from the windows; hence also used to denote the contents of the vessel” (Sc. 1808 Jam., jordeloo); “this term is used in a similar sense in Dmf.” (Jam.2, gardeloo). Hist. Phr. to make the gardyloo, to throw the dirty water out. [gɑrdɪ′lu:] Sc. 1771  Smollett Humphry Clinker II. 227:
At ten o'clock at night the whole cargo is flung out of a back window that looks into some street or lane, and the maid calls Gardy loo to the passengers.
Sc. 18th cent.  H. G. Graham Soc. Life (1899) I. 83:
By ten o'clock each night the filth collected in each household was poured from the high windows, and fell in malodorous plash upon the pavement, and not seldom on unwary passers-by. At the warning call of “Gardy loo” . . . from servants preparing to outpour the contents of stoups, pots, and cans, the passengers beneath would agonisingly cry out “Haud yer hand.”
Sc. 1818  Scott H. Midlothian xxvii.:
Luckie MacPhail sent down the lass to tell my friend Mrs Crombie that she had made the gardyloo out of the wrang window, out of respect for twa Highlandmen that were speaking Gaelic in the close below the right ane.
Sc. 1867  E. B. Ramsay Reminisc. 260:
The wellknown cry which preceded the missile and warned the passenger was Garde loo!

[The word is first recorded in the form gardelue, in Edb. Burgh Records, 25th July 1662. Ad. Fr. (prenez) garde à l'eau, or gardez (vous de) l'eau!, “beware of the water.”]

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"Gardyloo interj.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 18 Nov 2019 <>



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