Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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PAISLEY, prop.n. Also Paisly; Paisla' (Ags. 1824 Literary Olio (20 March) 87), Paslay (Sc. c.1700 W. McFarlane Geog. Coll. (S.H.S.) II. 205). A Royal burgh in Renfrewshire. [′pezli]

1. Combs.: (1) Paisley bend, hay rolled and splayed out at the corners of a hay-cart (Lth., Lnk. 1965); (2) Paisley bodie, a soubriquet for a native of Paisley (wm.Sc. 1965); (3) Paisley cork, an agent or contractor of a Paisley weaving firm who sub-contracted work to self-employed weavers, an employer of labour. See Cork, n., 1.; (4) Paisley mittens, the trouser pockets, used jocularly to imply laziness in Paisley men; (5) Paisley play, in whist: a simple unsophisticated mode of play. Phr. to play Paisley, to play whist in this manner. Cf. Crail Play, Jeddart play s.v. Play; †(6) Paisley pig(gy), an earthen ware jar, ? of a type made in Paisley; (7) Paisley screw, a screw driven home with a hammer instead of a screwdriver, also connoting laziness (wm.Sc. 1950). Hence Paisley screwdriver, a hammer (Id.). Cf. Glesca screwdriver s.v. Glesca; †(8) Paisley whisker, a type of moustache supposed to be fashionable among the men of Paisley. (2) Sc. 1810  Scotsman (11 Feb. 1948):
The woman who cleans the office is a Paisley buddy.
Rnf. 1870  R. Chambers Pop. Rhymes 274:
Glasgow people, Greenock folk, and Paisley bodies. These words are understood to convey the popular sense of the comparative social importance of the inhabitants of the three great towns of the west: the inhabitants of Glasgow being called people, on account of their wealth and citizenly dignity; the Greenockians, folk, as expressive of their homely respectability; while the Paisley bodies . . . are at the bottom of the scale.
(3) Rnf. 1837  Laird of Logan 231:
Extract from the commercial notebook of a Paisley cork.
(4) wm.Sc.   Ib. 50:
He would stand for a whole hour, with his hands elbow-deep in Paisley mittens.
(5) Fif. 1891  A. J. Mackay Proverbs 38:
At whist, to lead Ace King in succession, is the same as “Paisley play,” in like manner looked down upon by Glasgow players.
Sc. 1896  A. Cheviot Proverbs 274:
Playing Jeddart; and Playing Paisley. These expressions are used in the south and west of Scotland, respectively, to indicate a plain straightforward way of playing the game of whist, by leading all winning cards in succession, without any plan to make the best of the hand.
(6) Sc. 1733  W. Thomson Orpheus Caled. II. 85:
My Paisly Piggy, cork'd with Sage, Contains my drink but thin — O.
(8) Gsw. 1904  H. Foulis Erchie xxvi.:
He was a wee nyaf o' a thing, wi' a Paisley whisker, a face no bigger than a Geneva watch.

2. In special reference to the thread and textile industries of Paisley, esp. the manufacture of shawls of a highly ornamental oriental pine pattern (see (4) below); hence applied to the pattern itself or any fabric bearing it. Sc. 1961  Sunday Times (7 May):
Shirt-necked dress patterned in paisley. Blue, brown, red, or turquoise, all on white ground.

Combs.: (1) Paisley harn, see Harn, n.2; (2) Paisley harness, see Harnish and quots.; (3) Paisley lace, a type of very fine embroidery or drawn-thread work similar to Ayrshire white needlework, made in Paisley in the late 18th and early 19th c. See Ayrshire (Suppl.) and Flour, v.2; (4) Paisley (pine) pattern, an elaborate colourful design, based on Hindu and Arabic motifs, used in the Paisley shawl (1805–1870) and thereafter in a wide variety of fabrics copied throughout the world; (5) Paisley plaid, an oblong variant of the Paisley shawl; (6) Paisley shawl, a shawl of the Paisley pattern, made of cashmere and wool or silk or cotton and wool, very freq. acquired by a woman on her marriage. Also called a Paisley square shawl. A Paisley long shawl = (5). Also attrib. (2) Rnf. 1904  M. Blair Paisley Shawl 19:
The beautiful textures which reached their perfection in the Paisley Harness Shawl.
Rnf. 1925  A. M. Stewart Paisley Shawl 17:
The earliest examples of the Paisley harness shawls it has been our privilege to examine show little or no trace of Eastern influence.
(3) Sc. 1831  Fraser's Mag. (Feb.) 40:
Shetland bonnet, hose, and shoon. Frill o' seemly Paisley lace.
(4) Rnf. 1925  A. M. Stewart Paisley Shawl 18:
There grew up a traditional style of ornament based upon the adopted pine, which is known everywhere in the textile trade as the “Paisley Pattern.”
Sc. 1958  S. Maxwell & R. Hutchison Sc. Costume 127:
What had become the typical Paisley pine or cone pattern remained as a favourite motif in Scotland.
Sc. 1962  Scotsman (16 Aug.):
The exhibition, based on the discovery in the Edinburgh College of Art of a series of original shawl pattern designs on oil paper, lays stress on the Edinburgh production in 1777 of what is now generally recognised as the “Paisley”pattern. Paisley took up production about 1805 and gained a near monopoly in the 1840s.
(5) Fif. 1916  G. Blaik Rustic Rhymes 62:
Nae bride was e'er complete withoot A kirkin' Paisley plaid.
Ork. 1920  J. Firth Reminisc. 54:
A large cashmere plaid of gaudy hue, or the many-coloured Paisley plaid.
(6) Sc. 1824  Scott St. Ronan's W. xx.:
“Not know Paisley shawls from Indian, madam?” said Touchwood; “why, a blind man could tell by the slightest touch of his little finger.”
Ags. 1858  People's Jnl. (15 May) 1:
Paisley Long Shawls, 15s to 14 guineas. Paisley Square Shawls, 7s 6d to 5 guineas.
Edb. 1864  St. Andrews Gazette (31 Dec.):
Gentlemen's Dressing-Gowns. A Fine Choice always in stock, in Printed Flannels . . . and Paisley Shawl Patterns.
Fif. 1894  J. Menzies Our Town vii.:
The women wore strong home-spun dresses, and bonnets constructed more with a view to usefulness than beauty. Those who were married carried the inevitable Paisley shawl.
Ayr. 1901  G. Douglas Green Shutters xi.:
There's that Paisley shawl for herself, too; eh, but they would be the canty pair!
Rnf. 1904  M. Blair Paisley Shawl 22, 30:
The Paisley Shawl proper begins to appear then [beginning of 19th c.], and about 1820, the successful effort to imitate the Indian Cashmere Shawl was in full swing, and this was the culminating point of the ingenuity and skill of the weavers. . . . As an article of dress the shawl went out of fashion about 1870.
Rnf. 1925  A. M. Stewart Paisley Shawl 20:
The Paisley shawls were made in three sizes — a shawl measured about 2 yards each way. A Plaid was 4 yards long by 2 yards wide; and a three-quarter plaid was between these two, approximately 60 by 100 inches. Plaids were woven twice the length of a shawl so that when folded double the two rough sides from which all the loose yarn had been cut away were turned inwards and hidden. A plaid was thus folded back square and usually worn square. A shawl, on the other hand, . . . was folded and worn diagonally. The three-quarter plaid was folded and worn square.
Abd. 1955  Buchan Observer (4 Oct.):
All the older women wore handsome mutches, beautifully goffered, and flamboyant Paisley shawls.

[O.Sc. has Paisley bodie, 1673.]

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"Paisley prop. n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 26 May 2019 <>



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