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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1976 (SND Vol. X).
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

WALAWA, int., n., v. Also wallowa, walawa(y), wallow(w)ay, wallowae, walla-, wally- (Ayr. 1822 Galt Entail liii.); williwa (Wgt. a.1813 Lochmaben Harper in Child Ballads (1956) IV. 19), willywa(w), willawa(a) (Ayr. 1833 J. McKillop Poems (1870) 77; Kcd. 1867 Stonehaven Jnl. (21 Nov.) 3), willywae (Ags. 1896 A. Blair Rantin Robin 133), willy way, willawae (Abd. 1768 A. Ross Helenore (S.T.S.) 68), willywha(a) (Kcb. 1898 Crockett Standard Bearer i.); well-a-wa (Sc. 1817 Scott Rob Roy xxxii., 1854 M. Oliphant M. Hepburn lxiv.); ¶waul, waul; and in various altered or fanciful forms wally wally, walaways (Sc. 1726 Ramsay T.-T. Misc. (1876) I. 130), will a waes (Sc. 1820 A. Sutherland St Kathleen IV. iv.); ¶wallova, ¶willa-woo (Mry. 1865 W. Tester Poems 141), ¶wull-a-wear (cf. Eng. dial. wellanear); willawins (Ayr. 1790 J. Fisher Poems 115, Ags. 1819 A. Balfour Campbell I. xviii., Abd. 1836 J. Grant Tales 57), willewins (Knr. 1832 L. Barclay Poems 8), willowans (Sc. 1873 D. M. Ogilvy Willie Wabster 15), willawaun (Per. 1857 J. Stewart Sketches 22), weel-a-wins (Mry. 1883 F. Sutherland Memories 49), -wons, -wuns Abd. 1871 W. Alexander Johnny Gibb iii.), wull-a-wins (Sc. 1819 Scott Bride of Lamm. xi.), -wons, -wuns (Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 299), wullowins (Mry. 1873 J. Brown Round Table Club 275), ¶wulla-wean (Abd. 1905 E.D.D.); wail-a-wins (Edb. 1801 J. Thomson Poems 71), wally-wins (Lnk. 1844 W. Watson Poems (1877) 179); ¶wairawons (Fif. 1825 Jam.), wear-a-wins (s.Sc. 1839 Wilson's Tales of the Borders V. 72); ¶willawackits (Abd. 1804 W. Tarras Poems 141). Sc. forms and usages of Eng. wellaway, alas!, a lamentation, now obs. or arch.

I. int. As in Eng., alas, alack, welladay!Sc. 1721 J. Kelly Proverbs 115:
Geily is sing Wallowways Brother. Spoken when we ask how a Thing is done, and are answered Gaily, that is, indifferently, as if indifferent was next to bad.
Abd. 1768 A. Ross Helenore (S.T.S.) 68:
The carling gloff'd, and cry'd out “Willawae!”
Edb. 1773 Fergusson Poems (S.T.S.) II. 184:
Ah! willawins for Scotland now Whan she maun stop ilk birky's mow.
s.Sc. 1793 T. Scott Poems 315:
But now we're frae ane anither, O wal-a-ways!
Abd. 1804 W. Tarras Poems 8:
Nae ferlie, though it pierc't my saul: I pegh't, I hegh't, syne cried Waul! Waul!
Sc. 1828 Scott F. M. Perth xxii.:
O, woe is me, and wala wa!
Mry. 1887 J. Thomson Recoll. 63:
Willawins! Willawins! that I sud ha'e lived tae see sic a sicht.
Sc. 1933 W. Soutar Seeds in Wind 34:
Wae an' willawackits, Pussie's in the burn.

II. n. 1. A lamentation, an outcry of grief (Ayr. 1834 Galt Liter. Life III. 57, wally wally).Ayr. 1822 Galt Entail liii.:
As Jenny says in her wally-wae about her father's cow and auld Robin Gray.
Lth. 1854 M. Oliphant M. Hepburn lxiv.:
I spend nae well a was on the like of you.
Ags. 1896 Arbroath Guide (15 Feb.) 4:
Oor neibors made an awfu' willy-wae aboot Marget's mischanter.

2. Transf. The devil (Sh. 1825 Jam., wallowae ; Ork. 1845 Stat. Acc.2 XV. 96, wallowa ; Sh. 1866 Edm. Gl., wallawae ; Ork. 1949, used as an expletive). Cf. Sorra, n., 2. Phr. walaway fa, devil take —!, confound —! Cf. Waly, n.Sc. c.1770 Herd's MSS. (Hecht 1904 ) 169:
O walaway fa' the cat, For she has bred muckle wanease.
Sh. 1879 Shetland Times (29 April):
What ill wallova is sent dee dis wy?

III. v. intr. To bewail, to make lamentation; to screech, yell. Orig. and freq. in Galt. Vbl.n. willywaying, lamentation.Ayr. 1822 Galt Gathering of West (1939) 41:
It's a slighting o' the mercy to be continually willy-waing about your losses.
Ayr. 1834 Galt Liter. Life III. 101:
There was a great willywaying in the parish for Mr Canny.
Ayr. 1837 Galt Stolen Child ii. xi.:
Well-awaying, as she said, with an awakened conscience.
Gall. 1843 J. Nicholson Tales 67:
Tell me what means a' this wull-a-wearin.
Ags. 1850 Montrose Standard (6 Dec.) 8:
Willywawin' like a parcel o' cats.
Kcb. 1911 Crockett Smugglers x.:
The whaups were willy-wha-ing.

[O.Sc. wallaway = I., c.1475, walloway = II., 1640, Mid.Eng. walawai, welawei, etc., O.E. weȝ lā weȝ, wā lā wā, exclam. of sorrow. Cf. Waly, Wally-dye.]

Walawa interj., n., v.

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"Walawa interj., n., v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 23 Apr 2024 <>



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