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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1956 (SND Vol. IV).
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

GLOY, n., v. Mainly I.Sc. Also erroneously gley. [glɔɪ]

I. n. 1. Straw; cleaned, unbroken straw, carefully selected and “bound up in little sheaves four or five inches in diameter” (Cai. 1907 D. B. Nicolson in County of Cai. 73), used for making baskets, straw-ropes, bee-hives, thatching, etc. (Ork. 1774 P. Fea MS. Diary (14 Dec.); Bch. 1897 Trans. Bch. Field Club IV. 81; Sh., Ork., Cai. 1954). Also attrib. Also in Gmg. dial.n.Sc. 1710 T. Ruddiman Gl. to Douglas Aeneis:
In the North of Scotland they stripe off the withered blades from the straw, and this they call Gloy, with which they thatch houses or make ropes.
Cai. 1776 Weekly Mag. (25 Jan.) 146:
We'll rin against them wi' a muckle stail, An' thrash them a' to gloy!
Sh. 1845 Stat. Acc.2 XV. 119:
This kiln is furnished with ribs of wood. These are covered with oat-straw, called “gloy”, and the grain laid on the top.
Ork. 1922 J. Firth Reminisc. 17:
Into each of the side walls [of the barn], a few feet above the ends of the thrashing floor, a small flagstone was built, projecting about six inches like a shelf. On these stones, when straw was required for making caisies, etc., taetes (small bundles) of black oats were beaten; because the straw, if thrashed, would be broken and crushed, and rendered unfit for the desired purpose. The straw left after this process was termed gloy.
Sh. 1948 C. E. Mitchell Up-Helly-Aa 119:
Another touch of variety was given by a lone guizer who masqueraded [in 1887] in the now almost obsolete ‘gloy' dress.

Combs.: ‡(1) gloystane, the stone on which the oats were thrashed (see Firth quot. above) (Ork.5 1953); †(2) gloy wark, plaiting of straw.(1) Sh. 1897 Shet. News (4 Dec.):
Dey're lyin' below da gloystane wi' a viskle o' gloy apo da tap o' dem.
Sh. 1949 J. Gray Lowrie 134:
I mind him comin ta wir hoose whin I wisna hicher as da gloy-stane i' da barn.
(2) Sh. 1931 Scots Mag. (Aug.) 336:
The straw of the “black” oats was more suitable for the “gloy wark”, as the plaiting was called, since it was finer in texture.

2. See quot. Cf. 1948 quot. above.Sh. 1934 W. Moffat Shetland 183:
The guisers made their appearance in their fancy dresses, the Skudler on this occasion wearing an extraordinary dress, a little suggestive of the pierrot . . . Instead of the loose breeches of the pierrot, he wore a petticoat of straw, called a “gloy”.

3. “A hasty thrashing, so as only to beat out the best grains” (Cld. 1825 Jam.).Lnk. 1853 W. Watson Poems 16:
A haun or twa they maun employ To gie 't a sort o' roughsome gloy.

II. v. To give grain in the sheaf a rough threshing, to strip off the ears of corn on the stalk. “Now almost obsolete” (Lth. 1808 Jam.). Used fig. in 1790 quot.Ayr. 1790 A. Tait Poems 147:
The good tap pickle ye hae gloyt, Of Moll and Meg.
Sc. a.1814 J. Ramsay Scot. & Scotsmen 18th Cent. (1888) II. 268:
For this purpose he gleyed his corn, i.e. threshed the best part of it, and then stacked up the straw.
Wgt. 1931–3 Trans. Dmf. & Gall. Antiq. Soc. 82:
The “gloyed” sheaves that were often used in building up a corn bin were ultimately used for thatching. “Gloying” was the term used to imply sheaves of corn thrashed without unloosing the binding straps.

[O.Sc. has gloy, straw, 1513, in Mid.Eng. c.1336, Mid.Du. gleye, gluye, (bundle of) straw; Fr. glui, rye straw used for thatching, tying up vines, etc., O.Fr. glui, stalk, straw, bundle of straw or one tied with straw.]

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"Gloy n., v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 20 Jun 2024 <>



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