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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1971 (SND Vol. VIII). Includes material from the 2005 supplement.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

SCAILIE, n. Also scal(e)y, scal(z)ie, sca(i)lyie, skail(z)ie, -llie, -y, skel(l)-ie, -(e)y; skila; sk(e)illie, skilie, -y-, skyl(l)ie; skeelie; scallie, scaulie, skawlie, skaalie, skal(l)ie, skalee. [′skele, ‡′skelji; em. and s.Sc. ′skili; ne.Sc. + ′skəili, ′skɑle]

1. The material slate, slate for roofing, blue slate (Sc. 1808 Jam.); as a collective sing.: slates. Also attrib. (Uls. 1953 Traynor). Comb. skaillie-bro(a)d, -burd, a slate for writing on (Rs. 1768 Pitcalnie MSS. Acet., skelly broad; Sc. 1825 Jam.), skaillie-pen, slate-pencil (Sc. 1808 Jam.; †Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.).Sc. 1700 Edb. Gazette (1–4 April):
Blew Sclate, or Scaley of several sizes.
Slg. 1703 Burgh Rec. Slg. (1889) 100:
8000 scailyie to the tolbooth.
Sc. 1707 G. Miege State N. Britain ii. i. 7:
Slates of a gray colour, ordinarily made use of for covering houses, and those of a blue colour, which they call Skelley.
Kcd. 1722 Elphinstone Bk. (Fraser 1897) II. 275:
A skallie table, with tressts and four sconces.
Inv. 1726 Steuart Letter Bk. (S.H.S.) 257:
The Earle of Cathness waints a parcell of Isdalle scalie sclate, which are certainly the finest in Britain.
Abd. 1745 Powis Papers (S.C.) 288:
To a new Mullet [read muller] for a Skailiebroad . . . . . . .3s.
Fif. 1751 E. Henderson Dunfermline (1879) 457:
To thatch the foreside of the Tolbooth with Scailzie.
Ayr. 1764 Session Papers, Petition Earl of Eglinton (13 July) 6:
Finding no Coal but a black skailly Substance good for nothing.
Per. 1765 Session Papers, Drummond v. Hay-Drummond (1 Aug. 1769) 21:
Stone-work, skylie-slated roof, doors.
Gsw. 1797 A. Brown Hist. Gsw. II. 364:
Marble stone, skallie or slate.

2. Slate-pencil (Per. 1889 Ellis E.E.P. V. 753, Slg. 1910 Scotsman (12 Sept.), Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B., skeelie; ne., em. Sc.(a), Lnk., Slk. 1969). Comb. quarry-skeelie, “slate-pencil of softish stone found in quarries, cliffs, etc.” (Watson).Abd. 1832 W. Scott Poems 47:
I had to lay my sclett an' scallie bye.
Ags. 1879 J. Y. Geddes New Jerusalem 100:
His skeely and his measurin' line.
Lth. 1885 J. Strathesk More Bits 42:
To sharpen their slate-pencil, or “skeelie”.
Rxb. 1925 E. C. Smith Mang Howes 4:
A skartin skeelie on a skuil sklate.
Abd. 1946 J. C. Milne Orra Loon 22:
Chawin' at his skalie, Mummlin' ower a sum.
Ags. 1964 D. Phillips Hud Yer Tongue 34:
That's skilie, hen; slate pincil — ye yase it whin ye gae t' skail.
Ags. 1999 Courier (14 Oct):
"Never a calculator or computer in sight. Just a skilly (slate pencil) and slates."

[O.Sc. scailȝee, slate, 1496, Mid. Du. schaelie, id., ad. O. Fr. escaille, shell, scale of a fish, lamina.]

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"Scailie n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 23 Jun 2024 <>



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