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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.

PEELIE, adj. Also peel(l)(y); pall(e)y-; ¶speelie. Thin, emaciated, stunted (Sc. 1808 Jam.); gen. in reduplic. forms: 1. peelie-wally, (1) adj., sickly, feeble, pallid, wan, thin and ill-looking (Sc. 1832 A. Henderson Proverbs Gl.; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B., peelwally, 1942 Zai, peelie-wally; m.Sc. 1965; Ork., Bnff., Ags., Edb., Gsw., Ayr., Dmf. 2000s), dull, insipid, colourless; Also Compar. peelie-wallier; Superl. peelie-walliest; also peelie-walliness n. (2) n., a tall, thin, ill-looking person; “also applied to a tall, slender plant or young shoot” (w.Sc. 1887 Jam., (s)peelie-wally); 2. peelie-wersh, -welsh, adj., sickly, delicate in constitution, colourless, insipid, nondescript (Ags., w.Sc. 1825 Jam., peel-wersh, peley-; Peb. 1910, -welsh; Cai., Lth. 1921 T.S.D.C., peel-a-walshe; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B., Rxb. 1965, peelwairsh). See also Wersh. Also adj. phr. peelie-welsh-like, id. (Bwk. a.1838 Jam. MSS. X. 239).Sc. 1928 J. G. Horne Lan'wart Loon 19:
But ony chappin', flang it wide, An' shov'd the peelie loon inside.
1. (1) Ayr. 1833 J. Kennedy G. Chalmers 81:
But may I ride on the win' wi' auld Nance Logan, the witch o' Glenteerie, when I gang to siccan a peelly-wally concern again!
Lnk. 1895 W. Stewart Lilts 104:
The sun sen's forth its flickerin' rays, Fu' peely-wally wan.
Gsw. 1904 H. Foulis Erchie xii.:
I was a kind o' eccentric peely-wally sowl, because I sometimes dried the dishes.
Kcd. 1932 L. G. Gibbon Sunset Song 278:
And damn it, if before a twelvemonth was up she didn't have a bairn, a peely-wally girl.
Rnf. 1936 G. Blake David and Joanna iv.:
That man couldny race if he tried. Luk at his peelwally legs.
Ayr. 1945 B. Fergusson Lowland Soldier 25:
Ye'd say he was thin, Peelywally, bow-leggit and shilpit.
Ags. 1964 D. Phillips Hud Yer Tongue 56:
Plowterin' through Posels of mud until we felt somewhat Peely-wally.
Gsw. 1972 Molly Weir Best Foot Forward (1974) 208:
I drooped and grew pale, and when my 'peelie walliness', as we called my wan looks, could no longer be ignored, we visited the doctor.
m.Sc. 1986 Colin Mackay The Song of the Forest 105:
"I'm just saying," persisted Faidh, his ears cocked to the sound of the deer's hoofs, "that she's over peelie wallie to bother about - all bone and that, ken? ... "
wm.Sc. 1991 Liz Lochhead Bagpipe Muzak 46:
So it's not unusual to see her looking sorta peely-wally and washed out.
Abd. 1995 Sheena Blackhall Lament for the Raj 3:
A fite hoose - even peely-wallier wi cauld.
Abd. 1996 Sheena Blackhall Wittgenstein's Web 14:
Noo an again it wad boo ower the peely-walliest chukkens, gien its ain warmth tae them.
Sc. 1998 Herald 12 Jun 4:
There was, of course, the usual post-match ritual of peely-wally Scots trying to chat up dusky Brazilian babes.
Edb. 1998 Gordon Legge Near Neighbours (1999) 158:
Trouble was there was only the two of them in the ground, two policemen, the Chief Inspector himself and a peely-wally greenhorn with the given name of White who was patrolling up the other end.
2. Edb. 1915 T. W. Paterson Auld Saws 131:
Peelie-wairsh an' feckless folks An' never fit ava.
m.Sc. 1934 J. Buchan Free Fishers x.:
A peely-wersh young man in braw clothes a wee thing the waur for wear.
Ags. 1988 Raymond Vettese The Richt Noise 40:
Syne up he sprauchles an' wauchles owre
tae the pub door an' sweys a moment
an' craiks: "Mind me noo," wi near a glowre
i the mochie een, "Mind me, tak tent."
I could only gie ane o my peelie-wersh smiles
an' nod the heid. Whit can ye say whiles?

[Orig. prob. imit. of a whining, feeble sound (cf. Peek), influenced formally by Palie, q.v., and in the reduplic. forms by Pae-Wae.]

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"Peelie adj.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 15 Jun 2024 <>



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