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A Dictionary of the Older Scottish Tongue (up to 1700)

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First published 2002 (DOST Vol. XII).
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

Will(i)e, -y, -ing, -ow, n. Pl. also wyllies. [ME and e.m.E. wilwe (c1325), wylghe (Rolle), welew (c1340), wylugh, wyl(o)w, willow (all Chaucer), wyllies pl. (1535), OE weliᵹ, MDu. wilge.] A willow tree or branch. b. attrib. and comb. Willing trie, -busse, a willow tree, bush. Willing-, willie wand, a thin, pliable branch of willow, also allusively of a weak person. Also attrib. with wheel (Wel(l n. 1 b, cf. (5) below). Willow wreath, etc., made of willow. Willow grene, a colour. Willie well, a spring or pool where there are willows (Wel(l n. 1 b).(a) 1473 Reg. Cupar A. I 178.
Til hald furth the watter with makyn of perys … and plantation of willeis
1604 Stirling B. Rec. I 110.
The furde at the bak of the abbay and besyd the blak willy
1659 Dumfries Council Min. MS 28 Feb.
For cutting doun of the willies
1659 Dumfries Council Min. MS 8 April.
The counsall hes sett … the sex ruid of land of the wyllies
1672 Dumfries Doc. (Petitions No. 23).
[Petition by John Kennar for abatement of his rent … as] your honors hes taken away the willies
(b) 1668 Retours I Inq. Spec. Lanark (306).
3 acris lapidatis lie stanie et sandie ground, et lie willings, super orientali latere aquae de Clyd
(c) 1660 Moses Returned from Midian 9.
Our vows which werr made when our harps did hing on the willows
b. (1) 1595 Aberd. B. Rec. II 129.
Ane willing trie presentlie standing in the south mud dyk of the yard
1642 Dundonald Par. Rec. 508.
The willing busse in the kirkyaird
(2) c1500-c1512 Dunb. (OUP) 105/22.
Sum thocht tham selffis stark lyk gyandis Ar nou maid waek lyk willing wandis
a1585 Arbuthnot in Maitl. Q. 88/34.
To man obedient Even lyik ane willie wand
a1605 Montg. Flyt. 76 (T).
With ane willing [H. willie] wand thow wes weill scurgit
attrib. ?16… McKay Kilmarnock 302.
The Earl of Kilmarnock feued out … [the] piece of green ground within the water at the foot of the willie wand wheel
(3) 1632 Lithgow Trav. iii 112.
Still for to weare the willow wreath
1653 Soc. Ant. XXIII 300.
Ane hung bed with green cloath, lac'd with willow laces
1683 Reid Sc. Gard'ner (1907) 69.
Willow-earth or rotten willow-sticks at the bottom of the pot helps to retain the moisture
(4) 1636 Edinb. Test. LVII 257b.
Ane willow grene taffettie petticott
(5) 1543 Ex. Processes (Reg. H.) No. i (Bonar v. Sheriff of Perth).
The boundis begynnand at the willie well and sua furth to the grene hill

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"Wille n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 24 May 2024 <>



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