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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1974 (SND Vol. IX). Includes material from the 2005 supplement.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

SWALLIE, v., n. Also swally, swalla(y). (swallie Bnff., Ags., Edb., Gsw., Ayr., Dmf., Rxb.; swalla Bnff., Abd., Ayr. 2000s). Sc. forms and usages of Eng. swallow, of food or drink. [′swɑle]

I. v. 1. As in Eng. (Slk. 1818 Hogg B. of Bodsbeck xiv., Abd. 1871 W. Alexander Johnny Gibb xii., Fif. 1897 S. Tytler Lady Jean's Son xiii., Uls. 1910 C. C. Russell People and Lang. 27, Kcd. 1958 Mearns Leader (2 May), swally; Sh. 1918 T. Manson Peat Comm. 71, swallay; Abd. 1921 T. McWilliam Light and Shadow 45, swalla). Gen.Sc. wm.Sc. 1985 Liz Lochhead Tartuffe 17:
Ah tell you - !
Nut at a'.
Naebody'll swally this!
Gsw. 1985 Michael Munro The Patter 67:
swally Pronounced to rhyme with rally, this is a local version of swallow: 'She's swallied the hail lot!'
wm.Sc. 1988 Christine Marion Fraser Storm over Rhanna (1990) 204:
'Ay, like you wi' your innocent wee cough bottles hidin' in the salt girnel!' Holy Smoke bounced back in no mean manner. 'I will no' forget that day you swallocked raw spirits in a public place, Miss Beag, I had though better of you.'
Gsw. 1993 Margaret Sinclair Soor Plooms and Candy Balls 7:
She'd sit oan the stool, coaxin' us tae swally it doon,
Edb. 1998 Green Shoots, an occasional magazine of poetry and verse by the people of Edinburgh 5 1:
Ma mooth is sair, ah canna swallie,
In fact, ah'm feelin richt peelie-wally,
em.Sc. 2000 James Robertson The Fanatic 247:
' ... It's ma word against theirs and an awfy lot o time's gane by since then. Water through the lade and aw that. Whit I like is the fact ye swallied aw the guff aboot why. Why I'm like I am, why I'm no like awbody else. ... '

Combs.: (1) swalla-reel in phr. to gie (something) the swalla-reel, to finish it off quickly, to demolish (Fif. 1957); (2) swallie-smout, swallow-smolt, a large kind of trout, supposed to feed on smolts or salmon-fry (Rxb. a.1838 Jam. MSS. XI. 181).(2) s.Sc. 1847 T. Stoddart Angler's Comp. 36:
Allied in some respects to the [Salmo] ferox, is what, in the lower districts of Tweedside, has been designated a Swallow-smolt.

II. n1. Sc. form of Eng. swallow; now rare or colloq., the throat, the gullet (Sh., Abd. 1972); a big gulp or mouthful (Ork. 1929 Marw.); a glutton, gluttony.Sc. a.1838 Jam. MSS. XI. 181:
“A terrible swallie”, applied to one who swallows rapidly or voraciously.
Sh. 1886 J. Burgess Sketches 79:
Wi' a mooth 'at could maistly had a fowerern, an' a swally laek da neck o' a vial.
Abd. 1920 D. Rorie Lum Hat 34:
He's narra' i' the swalla', an' He canna get it doon.
m.Sc. 1994 Martin Bowman and Bill Findlay Forever Yours, Marie-Lou 35:
You preferred hingin aboot wi yir Mammy so's ye could watch her an copy how tae suffer like a true saint!
You know yir no supposed tae drink! No even a swallie!

2. An alcoholic drink (Ags., Edb., Gsw., Ayr., Dmf. 2000s).Gsw. 1985 Michael Munro The Patter 67:
swally Pronounced to rhyme with rally, this is a local version of swallow: 'She's swallied the hail lot!' A swally can be a drink or a drinking session: 'Fancy a wee swally?'
Gsw. 1990s Ian Pattison Rab C. Nesbitt TV :
I wiz jist havin a wee swallie ...
Sc. 1994 Daily Record 29 Dec 19:
Like marriage and cinemas, the purchase of the Ne'erday swally is something that cannot be entered into lightly.
Gsw. 1997 Glaswegian 31 Jul 13:
All individual Eagle Tavern branches offers our customers regular drinks promotions and a Swally of The Month, where drinks nominated will be Discounted for everybody.
Gsw. 1998:
If you're just after a swally, I'd suggest either the Counting House in George Square, or, convenient for Soosiders like myself, the Clockwork Beer Company near Mount Florida station.
Sc. 1998 The List 3-17 Dec 24:
Flush with success and a few celebratory swallies, the bright lights of the casino beckoned us in and sucked us dry.
Sc. 2002 Daily Record 21 Sep 8:
King Tuts Wah Wah Hut has just revamped its upstairs bar, giving folks a vibey venue to chill out after gigs, album playbacks, filming and aftershow parties. Or just to enjoy a right good swallae.

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"Swallie v., n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 12 Apr 2024 <>



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