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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1968 (SND Vol. VII). Includes material from the 2005 supplement.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

PALIE, adj.1, n. Also pal(l)(e)y, -ie (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.), paulie, -y, pawlie (Jam.), polly; pailie. [′pɑlɪ, ′pǫlɪ, †′pele]

I. adj. 1. Thin, emaciated, having a pallid, sickly appearance, listless (Sc. 1825 Jam.; Ayr. 1921 T.S.D.C.; Bwk. 1942 Wettstein; Rxb. 1942 Zai; Fif., Knr., Rnf., s.Sc. 1965); insipid, dull, colourless (Lnk. 1825 Jam., pailie). Reduplic. forms pall(e)y-wall(e)y, id. (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B., 1955 Hawick News (18 June)), paalie-maalie (Cai. 1907 County of Cai. (Horne) 80), id., formed by conflation with peelie-wallie s.v. Peelie.Rxb. 1925 E. C. Smith Mang Howes 9:
The caller air ud seek roses back ti the chafts o the palliest peenge.
Sc. 1995 David Purves Hert's Bluid 47:
Lest nicht his legs wes that pallie
he dochtna wun out his chair.

2. Stunted in growth, underdeveloped, delicate in constitution (Rxb. 1825 Jam.; Fif., Lth. 1926 Wilson; Rxb. 1942 Zai; Ayr., s.Sc. 1965); specif. of young animals, esp. lambs: undersized, not thriving (Rxb. 1825 Jam., 1923 Watson W.-B.; Dmf. 1925 Trans. Dmf. & Gall. Antiq. Soc. XIII. 34, pally). Hence palley-lamb, palley-sheep. Cf. II. 2.Slk. 1824 Hogg Shep. Cal. (1874) xii.:
As for your paulie toop lamb, what care I for it?
Ork. 1911 J. Omond 80 Years Ago 8:
To our right are the calves, polly sheep, and, even in some cases, the work ox tied to the gable.
Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.:
A palley bairn.

3. Defective, deformed, lame (Sc. 1825 Jam.; Fif., Lth. 1926 Wilson; m. and s.Sc. 1965); speeif., of the limbs, etc.: incapacitated, inefficient or out of action through injury or disease, paralysed (Sc. 1825 Jam.; Per., Rxb. 1965); also of the left hand, as being less deft than the right (Ags. 1965). Hence pally-handit, -fittit, etc., having a damaged or useless hand or foot (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.; m. and s.Sc. 1965); left-handed (em.Sc. 1965); splay-footed, flat-footed (Sc. 1787 J. Elphinston Propriety II. 201; Ags., Lth. 1825 Jam.).Edb. 1773 Fergusson Poems (S.T.S.) II. 192:
Sin' Pauly Tam, wi' canker'd snout, First held the students in about.
Lth., Rxb. 1825 Jam.:
A lamb that is lame is sometimes called Pawlie. A pawlie hand is one that has been dislocated and not properly set.
Ags. 1956 People's Jnl. (31 March):
“What aboot gaein' alang this wey?” I suggested, pointin' tae the richt hand side o' the quay. Afore we'd aye followed oor pally-hands and landit in the village.

II. n. 1. A lethargic, slow-moving, sluggish person (Kcd., Lnk. 1825 Jam.); a feeble weakling (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.); hence ¶pallywat, a feeble complaining creature.Slk. 1899 C. M. Thomson Drummeldale 24:
In her husband's opinion, she was “a yuiseless, peengin' pallywat o' a craiter, and aye yammerin' wi' her stamick.”

2. An undersized, ailing lamb, a Croot (Rxb. 1825 Jam., 1923 Watson W.-B.; Kcb. 1965); “an unhealthy sheep” (s.Sc. 1825 Jam.). Comb. paulie-merchant, a dealer who buys up the inferior lambs of a flock (Rxb. 1825 Jam.).Slk. 1818 Hogg B. of Bodsbeck viii.:
There was Geordie the flesher, him that took away the crocks and the paulies, and my brockit-lamb.
Sth. 1820 Farmer's Mag. (Nov.) 439:
They then get very dull and settled, and are, presently, collected and shed, or divided into three sorts. First, the small lambs, or paleys, of both sexes, into one lot, which is sent directly off to the best fogage or clover in Culmaily.
Sth. 1840 Brit. Husbandry (Burke) III. 80:
The wedder lambs are divided into three sorts called tups, mids, and paleys.
Sc. 1843 Chambers's Jnl. (18 Nov.) 351:
The top lambs consigned to one gated fold, the mids to a second, and the paulies or smallest to a third.
Dmf. 1845 Edb. Ev. Courant (1 Nov.):
Shot Cheviot ewes from 16s to 18s, . . . and the pallies, or second shots of cross-breds, from 13s to 15s, and some even higher.
Rnf. 1855–7 Trans. Highl. Soc. 537:
Stock upon hill-land was much reduced, and palleys (the smallest lambs are so called) abounded everywhere.

[Orig. somewhat confused but prob. orig. deriv. variant forms from pale. O.Fr. appears to have had two forms pale, palle, with long and short vowels resp., Mid.Eng. pale, palle. The second meaning may have derived rather from Eng. pall, to become or make pale, hence faint or feeble, aphetic form of appal, also orig. from Lat. pallidus, pale.]

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"Palie adj.1, n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 24 May 2024 <>



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