Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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PEELIE, adj. Also peel(l)(y); pall(e)y-; ¶speelie. Thin, emaciated, stunted (Sc. 1808 Jam.); gen. in reduplic. forms: 1. peelie-wally, (1) adj., sickly, feeble, pallid, wan, thin and ill-looking (Sc. 1832 A. Henderson Proverbs Gl.; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B., peelwally, 1942 Zai, peelie-wally; m.Sc. 1965), dull, insipid, colourless; (2) n., a tall, thin, ill-looking person; “also applied to a tall, slender plant or young shoot” (w.Sc. 1887 Jam., (s)peelie-wally); 2. peelie-wersh, -welsh, adj., sickly, delicate in constitution, colourless, insipid, nondescript (Ags., w.Sc. 1825 Jam., peel-wersh, peley-; Peb. 1910, -welsh; Cai., Lth. 1921 T.S.D.C., peel-a-walshe; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B., Rxb. 1965, peelwairsh). See also Wairsh. Also adj. phr. peelie-welsh-like, id. (Bwk. a.1838 Jam. MSS. X. 239). Sc. 1928 J. G. Horne Lan'wart Loon 19:
But ony chappin', flang it wide, An' shov'd the peelie loon inside.
1. (1) Ayr. 1833 J. Kennedy G. Chalmers 81:
But may I ride on the win' wi' auld Nance Logan, the witch o' Glenteerie, when I gang to siccan a peelly-wally concern again!
Lnk. 1895 W. Stewart Lilts 104:
The sun sen's forth its flickerin' rays, Fu' peely-wally wan.
Gsw. 1904 H. Foulis Erchie xii.:
I was a kind o' eccentric peely-wally sowl, because I sometimes dried the dishes.
Kcd. 1932 L. G. Gibbon Sunset Song 278:
And damn it, if before a twelvemonth was up she didn't have a bairn, a peely-wally girl.
Rnf. 1936 G. Blake David and Joanna iv.:
That man couldny race if he tried. Luk at his peelwally legs.
Ayr. 1945 B. Fergusson Lowland Soldier 25:
Ye'd say he was thin, Peelywally, bow-leggit and shilpit.
Ags. 1964 D. Phillips Hud Yer Tongue 56:
Plowterin' through Posels of mud until we felt somewhat Peely-wally.
2. Edb. 1915 T. W. Paterson Auld Saws 131:
Peelie-wairsh an' feckless folks An' never fit ava.
m.Sc. 1934 J. Buchan Free Fishers x.:
A peely-wersh young man in braw clothes a wee thing the waur for wear.

[Orig. prob. imit. of a whining, feeble sound (cf. Peek), influenced formally by Palie, q.v., and in the reduplic. forms by Pae-Wae.]

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"Peelie adj.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 29 Oct 2020 <>



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