Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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MELANCHOLY, n. Also melankoli, milankily. Sh. forms and usages. [mə′lɑŋkəle. This accentuation is found in Eng. till 17th c. See A. Montgomerie Poems (S.T.S.) 347.]

1. The common yarrow or milfoil, Achillea millefolium, so called because it was used to brew a tea believed to dispel melancholy (see 1835 G. T. Burnett Outlines of Botany II. 928) (I.Sc. 1962). Cf. Meal-an'-Folly, id. Sh. 1947 Shet. Folk Bk. (Tait) I. 84:
Melancholy — Yarrow or Milfoil. Achillea Millefolium. This name, obviously a comparatively recent application, and somewhat localised, is sometimes shared with [Sneezewort]. Yarrow was deemed to be a specific for melancholia.

2. Love-sickness (Sh. 1866 Edm. Gl.).

3. Mischief, devilment. Sh. 1898 Shetland News (8 Oct.):
Ill helt care I 'at he gets hit. He's aye up for some milankily.

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"Melancholy n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 6 Dec 2021 <>



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