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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1960 (SND Vol. V).
This entry has not been updated but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

ILL-EE, n. 1. The evil eye, a malicious look supposed to do harm to the person to whom it is directed (Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 278; Sc. 1825 Jam.; Ags., Wgt. 1958).Lnk. a.1779 D. Graham Writings (1883) II. 102:
They [sowens] would be thick enough if ill hands and ill e'en baed awa' from them.
Ayr. 1823 Galt R. Gilhaize II. xxii.:
The blighting blink o' an ill e'e has lighted upon you.
Mry. 1828 J. Ruddiman Tales 65:
You came straight before the cow, and you cast an ill ee upon her.
Dmb. 1879 J. Napier Folk-Lore 78:
A relation of the sufferer's secretly cut out a small portion of the visitor's dress and threw it into the fire, by which means it was believed that the influence of the ill e'e would be destroyed.
ne.Sc. 1881 W. Gregor Folk-Lore 184:
There were those who were dreaded as buyers, if the purchase was not completed by them. In a short time the animal began to “dwine”, or an accident befell it, or death speedily followed. Such had an “ill-ee”.
Bch. 1929 W. Littlejohn Cottar Stories 2:
Witches, warlocks, fairies, water kelpies, with frets, ill prayers, ill een, and all the terrors of “Black Airt”.

2. Fig. A dislike or ill-will at (Sh. 1958). Also a longing or yearning for, see Ee, n., 2. (1) and Ill, adj., 12. (1) (Abd., Ags. 1958).Sh. 1897 Shetland News (4 Sept.):
Doo shürely kens at Sholma is hed an ill e'e ta Rigga, sin' dey wir calves.
Abd. 1928 N. Shepherd Quarry Wood v.:
There's Andy Macpherson has a gey ill e'e aifter her.

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"Ill-ee n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 29 Jan 2023 <>



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