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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1960 (SND Vol. V).
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

HOOLACHAN, n. Also houl-, hul(l)-; -ichan, -aghen, †-ighin; †thulichan; hoolican, -ikan (Rxb.). A Highland reel, specif. the reel of Tulloch (Cai., ne.Sc., Arg., Rxb. 1957).

Comb. hullachan grip, see 1954 quot. [′huləxən]Per. c.1800 Lady Nairne Songs (1905) 169:
Afore we end, strike up the spring O' Thulichan and Hieland-fling.
Per. 1844 Scots Mag. (July 1944) 303:
The first dance, we understand, was the Houlaghen, which was danced by twenty Highlanders in five reels.
Abd. 1880 G. Webster Crim. Officer 78:
I wuss ye hed seen me jist that nicht, wi' my hielan' dress on, gaen at the Reel o' Hoolichan.
wm.Sc. 1917 H. Foulis Jimmy Swan 207:
Ye're away behind to dance the hoolichan.
Sc. 1949 Scots Mag. (April) 47:
A favourite dance for such an occasion was “Hulichan roond the hoose,” which was hard work for the fiddlers as well as for the dancers.
Sc. 1954 H. A. Thurston Scotland's Dances 54:
Sometimes two women may turn with the “Hullachan grip”; they link arms, each putting her free hand behind her back to grasp the other's hand. A woman and a man may also use this grip, but not two men.

[Ad. Gael. (ruidhle) Thulachain, the Reel of Tulloch, in Strathspey.]

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"Hoolachan n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 29 Nov 2023 <>



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