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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.

WYLIECOAT, n. Also wylicoat, wilie-, wil(e)ycoat (Slk. 1822 Hogg Perils of Man (1972) xxvii.), weilycoat, weillie-, willy(e)coat (Kcb. 1895 Crockett Moss-Hags xxxii.), -cote, willy kit; wellycoat (Arg. 1882 Arg. Herald (3 June)), wellicoat (Sh. 1877 G. Stewart Tales 27); and ne.Sc. forms wallicoat, wa(a)laquyte, wally kwite, wulloquite (Bnff. a.1838 Jam. MSS. XI. 220); and reduced forms wallie, wylie. Applied to a garment resembling a frock or smock made of some warm material and worn between the outer clothing and that next the skin, later modified according to the sex and age of the wearer as below. Obs. exc. in sense 1.

1. A man's garment: a kind of long under-waistcoat or short undercoat usu. of flannel with sleeves and reaching to the thigh, to give extra warmth in cold weather (Sc. 1710 T. Ruddiman Gl. to Douglas Aeneis, 1808 Jam.; Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 206; e.Lth. 1911; Uls. 1953 Traynor; Lth., Bwk. 1974, wylie (coat)).Lnk. c.1740 Trans. Hawick Arch. Soc. (1972) 19:
2 wstcotes mendet and willy Cote made . . . a tuillin willicoat and vast and briches.
Sc. 1823 Mirror of Literature I. 285:
A wallicoat of white drugget, deep blue inexpressibles.
Rnf. 1835 D. Webster Rhymes 23:
They had neither wylie coats nor jackets.
Per. 1857 J. Stewart Sketches 178:
The hame-spun breekum and the wyliecoat.
Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 232:
Gehn ye insure me o' a gueede dry waalaquyte an' a bottle o' yill fin we gang ashore.
Kcb. 1901 R. Trotter Gall. Gossip 61:
Puir Gilbert, wi an aul' wylie-coat on.
Sh. 1955 L. Venables Birds, etc. 289:
Shetlanders say that before rain the sandy loo flies round calling for his willy-kit, “Willy-kit . . . Willy-kit . . . Willy-kit” (Willy-kit is the old word for a seaman's vest).

2. A woman's garment: an under-petticoat (s.Sc. 1802 J. Sibbald Chron. Sc. Poetry Gl.), though in some cases some female version of 1. may be intended. Now only in liter. or arch. use.Sc. 1721 J. Kelly Proverbs 51:
A Wife knows enough, who know[s] the good Man's Breeks from Weilycoat.
Sc. 1733 W. Thomson Orpheus Caled. I. 54:
I man' ha'e a silk Hood, A Kirtle, Sark, Wylie Coat, and a silk Snood.
Sc. 1797 J. Pinkerton Hist. Scot. I. 154:
The kirtle, or close gown, was rarely accompanied with the wyliecot or under petticoat.
Sc. 1822 Scott F. Nigel xxxvii.:
But if the Lady Dalgarno were to sell all that she has, even to her very wylie-coat.
Rnf. 1835 D. Webster Rhymes 180:
Mither Eve's first wyliecoat.
Abd. 1876 R. Dinnie Songs 102:
Wives wi' short kirtles an' wallies were seen.
Kcb. 1896 Crockett Grey Man iii.:
That madcap lass, Nell Kennedy, with her wylicoats kilted.
Sc. 1923 Sc. Univ. Verses 66:
I min' I lost a thripny doon My wylie coatie's linin'.

3. As worn by children: appar. a sort of frock worn as an outer or under garment.m.Lth. 1701 Session Rec. Cramond MS. (18 Dec.):
The session being informed of the nakednesse of Hew Millar ane orphan in this paroch appoints the thesaurer deput to buy to him two shirts and a weillie coat.
Ayr. 1786 Burns To a Louse vi.:
Or aiblins some bit duddie boy, On's wyliecoat.
Sc. 1820 Scott Abbot i.:
A hardy little boy . . . did not hesitate a moment to strip off his wylie-coat, and plunge into the water.
Abd. 1843 A. Allardyce Footdee (1872) 5:
The little children were more comfortable, those of both sexes being clad in a simple dress of white plaiding, called a “wallicoat.”
Per. 1879 P. R. Drummond Bygone Days 66:
We can shape their wylie-coat but canna shape their weird.
Ayr. 1887 J. Service Dr Duguid 157:
Not only wash the wean mysel', but put on the bit sweeler and wyliecoat o't as weel!
Hdg. 1908 J. Lumsden Th' Loudons 275:
Nae muffs like weans in wylie-coats, But man-like men, an' sturdy.

4. A kind of sleeved nightdress used by women. In n.Eng. dial. as a child's nightgown.Sc. 1752 Caled. Mercury (1 Sept.):
At Bedding the Bride appeared dressed, after the good old Fashion, in a long Wyliecoat; but that she might appear somewhat in the new Mode, she had over it a Holland Shirt ruffled at Hands and Breast.

[O.Sc. wyly coyt, = 1., 1488, = 2., a.1570, = 3., 1569, = 4., c.1650. The orig. of the first element is obscure.]

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



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