Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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WALLIE, adj., adv., int., n. Also walie, wal(l)y, waaly, walley, wawlie, wallow. [′wɑle, ′wle]

I. adj. 1. In gen.: fine, excellent, pleasant, beautiful (Sc. 1721 Ramsay Poems Gl.; Ork. 1973). Also in n.Eng. dial. Sc. 1789 Pantheon Rattle 10:
Deem'd ilk ane gi'en to tittle tattle, Weel wordy o' a wallie Rattle.
Ayr. 1790 J. Fisher Poems 64:
Get ye that bra' wallie name, O' ilka body's body.
Ayr. 1822 H. Ainslie Pilgrimage 31:
Thanks to ye, sir, for your mony wally words.
Ags. 1848 Feast Liter. Crumbs (1891) 33:
Dear Rab, I got your wauly letter, An' troth, I never got a better.
Ork. 1880 Dennison Sketch-Bk. 7:
Sheu meed a boosam, frugal, wally wife tae the laird.
e.Lth. 1903 J. Lumsden Toorle 155:
A wally scribe, too, far kenn'd was the name.
Sc. 1928 J. G. Horne Lan'wart Loon 20:
For Tam had aye the wally gift 'Twad lure the lairock frae the lift.
Ork. 1956 C. M. Costie Benjie's Bodle 146:
Wae a' hid a wally supper.

Combs.: (1) wally-dy(e), (i) n., a toy, knick-knack, trifle, a piece of ornamentation or finery (s.Sc. 1802 J. Sibbald Chron. Sc. Poetry Gl.; w.Sc. 1825 Jam.). Cf. IV. 1., bonny-die s.v. Bonny, V. (1) and Die, n.1; (ii) adj., used ironically, fine, splendid; (2) wally-gowdie, a term of endearment, ? sc. lovely jewel. The quot. is a reminiscence of Dunbar In Secreit Place 45. (1) (ii) Lnk. 1818 A. Fordyce Country Wedding 63:
She sma' credit can claim Frae sic wally-dye flirds.
Slk. 1832 Hogg Altrive Tales 186:
I'll let you see a wally-dy sight. . . . I'll let you see a bonny thing and a braw thing in yon brake o' the wood.
(2) Edb. 1866 J. Smith Merry Bridal 20:
Come, kilt yer coats, my wally gowdie! My honey-doo! my auld howtowdie!

2. Of persons and animals: (1) big and strong, plump, buxom, thriving, sturdy (Sc. 1808 Jam., a waly bairn; I.Sc. 1973). Sc. 1722 Ramsay Poems (S.T.S.) III. 10:
She was a winsome Wench and waly.
Abd. 1733 W. Forbes Dominie Depos'd (1765) 37:
[She] told it was that luck had sent, A waly boy.
Lnk. a.1779 D. Graham Writings (1883) II. 34:
I wad rather see the wean gin it be ony thing wally and like the warld.
Ayr. 1785 Burns There was a lad iii.:
This waly boy will be nae coof.
Bnff. 1856 J. Collie Poems 140:
An' is the Pun'ler aye the same, Sae big an' wally?
Edb. 1875 J. Smith Humor. Sc. Stories 61:
Come an' look at the waly beauties, my dear! a' loupin' an' lively.
Kcb. 1898 T. Murray Frae the Heather 162:
The lambs in April micht come loupin', Baith vast and wally.
Lth. 1905 J. Lumsden Croonings 59:
The type of Scotia's wally mountain race.

(2) Following Burns, specif. of the fist or grip: big, strong. Ayr. 1792 Burns Willie Wastle iv.:
Her walie nieves like midden-creels.
Clc. 1882 J. Walker Poems 12:
In her walie grip She taks her heuk and clear an open space.
Kcb. 1897 A. J. Armstrong Robbie Rankine 12:
Leanin his braid birstly chin on the palms o' his waly neives.
m.Sc. 1917 J. Buchan Poems 43:
His walie nieves upheld a muckle bowl Whase spicy scent was unction to the saul.
Abd. 1922 Swatches o' Hamespun 62:
His wally niv waggin' at's hip.

3. Of things: (1) large, ample, considerable, substantial, heavy, strong, imposing ( I.Sc. 1973). Superl. wallyest. Per. 1739 A. Nicol Nature 22:
Ilk merry Look and wally Taste Gies Health unto the gamesome Jest.
Lnk. a.1779 D. Graham Writings (1883) II. 53:
A pair o' wally side auld fashioned breeks o' his father's.
Dmf. 1823 J. Kennedy Poems 33:
What tho' we're parted now atwa A wallie space.
Gsw. 1872 J. Young Lochlomond Side 12:
We see her [Clyde] tak' a wally sweep, By auld Dumbarton's hoary keep.
Ags. 1880 J. E. Watt Poet. Sk. 21:
It was a walie pat, atweel, Fu' deftly made o' stout white-airn.
Sc. 1887 Stevenson Underwoods 117:
Noo choose ye out a walie hammer.
Per. 1888 R. Ford Glentoddy 38:
The Widow M'Vicar fa'in' clyte a' her waly-wecht into his arms.
Ork. 1893 Sc. Antiquary VIII. 57:
Wallie horns o' blud-reed wine.
Sh. 1900 Shetland News (29 Sept.):
Ye're gien him a waaly lug-staff.
Lth. 1905 J. Lumsden Croonings 294:
Tib had a wally doze at wance.
ne.Sc. 1957 Mearns Leader (30 Aug.):
Lookin' doon at the wallyest cabbitch I'd ever seen.

(2) decorative, fancy, ornamental, esp. applied to porcelain figures of dogs, etc. set out for decoration on mantelpieces and sideboards. Hence wally-dug (m. and s.Sc. 1973), -poodle. Gsw. 1904 H. Foulis Erchie 142:
Wally dugs on the mantel-piece.
Slg. 1932 W. D. Cocker Poems 151:
The dresser, wi' its cheeny jugs, My ornaments, the waly dougs.
wm.Sc. 1937 W. Hutcheson Chota Chants 33:
The shelf has wally poodles and twa breenging nags in bronze.
Edb. 1971 Edb. Ev. News (21 Sept.) 10:
Wally Dugs, 1 pair, white porcelain, 12 in. high, 1 damaged . . . only ¥2.50.

(3) hence by transf.: made of porcelain, china, glazed (m., s.Sc. 1973). Combs. wally close, a tiled entry to a block of flats, looked on as a sign of social superiority (wm.Sc. 1973); wally-close-gless-door, used attrib., socially pretentious, snobbish; wally poorie, a china cream-jug, transf. the sea-urchin, Echinus marinus (Fif. 1964 Weekly Scotsman (17 Sept.) 3). Gsw. 1904 H. Foulis Erchie 11, 15, 49:
A new grate wi' wally sides till't. . . . A wally door-knob wi' a number on't. . . . Wally jaw-boxes and tiled closes.
Gsw. 1910 H. Maclaine My Frien' 20:
There was nae stairtin' life in wally close tenements in my young days.
wm.Sc. 1925 Scots Mag. (Dec.) 233:
The cheeny dugs and the two wally bowls.
Gsw. 1950 H. W. Pryde McFlannel Family Affairs 60:
Is she awfully “wally-close-gless-door”?
Gsw. 1958 C. Hanley Dancing in the Streets 52:
The old wally jauries, fairly crude earthenware marbles just under an inch in diameter.
Rnf. 1965 T. E. Niven East Kilbride 153:
Bowl Mary travelled the countryside with a large basket containing all manner of “cheeny and wally articles”.

II. adv. Finely, excellently, splendidly, well. With impersonal v. in phr. wally fa, good luck to, may well befall. Contrast Waly, adv. Sc. 18th c. Merry Muses (1911) 89:
Something else she'll gie to you, That's wallow worth the wearin'. [1800: waly]
Ayr. 1790 A. Tait Poems 278:
Wi' oxen to fat and cows feeding wally.
e.Lth. a.1801 R. Gall Poems (1819) 67:
Cutty-spoons 'mang puddings mingle, Hoved up sae waly.
n.Sc. 1808 Jam.:
Waly fa me, is a phrase not yet entirely obsolete.
s.Sc. 1847 H. S. Riddell Poems 195:
A' gangs wally wi' them, Wha thus live in their native land.

III. int. As an exclamation of admiration: goodness!, gracious!, well!, my! Also in forms o and a wally, o braw wallie. Sc. 1776 D. Herd Sc. Songs II. 226:
A wally, how he woo'd me.
Sc. 1791 Outlaw Murray in Child Ballads No. 305 B. viii.:
O waly, but they were bonny to see.
Sc. 1823 Richie Story in Child Ballads No. 232 A.i., F.i.:
The Earl of Wigton had three daughters Oh and a waly, but they were unco bonnie! . . . O braw wallie, but they were bonnie!
Sc. 1832 A. Henderson Proverbs 144:
Walie, walie! bairns are bonnie; ane's aneugh and twa's ower mony.
Sc. 1880 Dun & Thomson Vocal Melodies 404:
Touch not the nettle lest it should sting thee, Waly sae green as the bracken grows.

IV. n. 1. An ornament, trinket, knick-knack, a toy (Sc. 1808 Jam.), in pl. fine clothes, finery (Rxb. 1825 Jam.). Also attrib. and in reduplic. form wil(l)y-wallie, whilly -, id., and fig. an affected effeminate man. Combs. bonny-wallies, knick-knacks. See Bonny, V. (3). Also in n.Eng. dial.; ¶gue-wallies, appar. rich, fancy, over-elaborate food, the first element poss. representing Goo, n.1 or n.3; wally-stane, a lump of quartz used as a plaything by children (Cld. 1825 Jam.). Sc. 1722 Ramsay Poems (S.T.S.) II. 55:
Baith Lads and Lasses busked brawly, To glour at ilka Bonny-waly.
Sc. 1747 Lyon in Mourning (S.H.S.) III. 321:
Something more valuable for thee than the bonny wily walys . . . Mr Gordon, who carried out to you the willy walys.
Edb. 1772 Fergusson Poems (S.T.S.) II. 90:
Here chapmen billies tak their stand, An' shaw their bonny wallies.
Ayr. 1809 W. Craw Poet. Epistles 30:
Wi' a' kind of viands, sauce, and jellies; Nor wi' them vie in their gue wallies.
Kcb. 1814 W. Nicholson Poems (1897) 83:
Bow doon his feathery brain o' sallies And pluck his bonnet o' its walies.
Rxb. 1821 A. Scott Poems 75:
Some airy wag in a' his wallies drest.
Ayr. 1822 Galt Sir A. Wylie lxiv.:
Your willy-wally of a brother sympathizes with the gross nonsense.
Bnff. 1846 Banffshire Jnl. (6 Jan.):
[We'll] dispose o' a' our whilly wallies In Libra Scorpio or Pallas.
Abd. 1876 R. Dinnie Songs 85, 102:
Ye gentle dames wi' wallies braw . . . Wives wi' short kirtles an' wallies were seen.
Ayr. 1892 H. Ainslie Pilgrimage 188:
Let's look at this same wally trash.

2. Transf.: the genitals, esp. in the male (Sc. 1808 Jam. s.v. Wallidrag). Sc. 1698 J. Kirkwood Plea before Kirk 79:
When we bid our Children hide their Walies or Pilda's.
Sc. a.1796 Burns Merry Muses (1911) 47:
She claps him on the waulies.

3. The common daisy, Bellis perennis (Gall., s.Sc. 1825 Jam.). Comb. waly-sprig, id. Kcb. 1789 D. Davidson Seasons 42, 48:
O'er the verdant mead Behold the blushing prospect — Who can paint A waly-sprig like Nature? . . . When fields grew green, an' walies spread Their blossoms on ilk' brae.
Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 116:
Hinnie sweyd down the whiteclaver, And the wallie's head did ben'.

4. From I. 3. (3): porcelain, china, glazed earthenware or tiling (m. and s.Sc. 1973); a dish or ornament made of such (em., wm.Sc., Wgt. 1973); specif. in pl. broken pieces of china used as playthings (em., wm.Sc. 1973), also in comb. wally money, id., when these are used as coins (Per., Slg., wm.Sc. 1973), hence of anything of little value in neg. phr. not for wallies, “not for toffee”, not at all; in pl. earthenware marbles (Gsw. 1973); a set of false teeth (Lnk. 1954 Sc. Educ. Jnl. (30 July) 509; Per., Slg., Fif., Lth., wm.Sc. 1973) as orig. made of porcelain. Gsw. 1890 Sc. N. & Q. (1st Ser.) III. 157:
Children in Glasgow call pieces of broken dishes “waly” or “walie”.
Gsw. 1910 H. Maclaine My Frien' 55:
Clappin' doon the shillins like wallies.
Gsw. 1951 H. W. Pryde M. McFlannel's Romance 3:
Choir practice? Our Maisie? She can't sing for wallies!
Gsw. 1951 College Echoes (April) 8:
“Hey Wullie! Ye're awa w'oot yer wallies!” “Aw here so ah'm! Ah wis wunnerin' whit wey ma pipe wouldny stey at peace.”
Sc. 1965 Rebels Ceilidh Song Bk. No. 2 28:
It wis nane o yuir wally, juist a plain close.

[Orig. obscure, ? poss. connected with Wale, sc. ‘choice'. O.Sc. wallie gowdye, c.1510, wallie fall, 1535, ? walliman, 1629.]

Wallie adj., adv., interj., n.

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"Wallie adj., adv., interj., n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 12 May 2021 <>



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