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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1976 (SND Vol. X). Includes material from the 2005 supplement.

YELLA, adj., v., n. Also yelly (Kcb. 1911 G. M. Gordon Auld Clay Biggin 22; Lth. 1925 C. P. Slater Marget Pow 106; Fif., Lth. 1926 Wilson Cent. Scot. 276; Bwk. 1942 Wettstein); yalla (Abd. 1920 R. H. Calder Gleanings 4; s.Sc. 1926 H. McDiarmid Drunk Man 25; Ags. 1934 H. B. Cruickshank Noran Water 10; Sh., ne., wm., s.Sc. 1974), yallow (Abd. 1754 R. Forbes Journal 24; Edb. 1772 Fergusson Poems (S.T.S.) II. 71; Sh. 1891 J. Burgess Rasmie's Büddie 53; Kcd. 1929 Montrose Standard (30 Aug.)); yallie (Per. 1915 Wilson L. Strathearn 276). Sc. forms and usages of Eng. yellow (Uls. 1900 A. McIlroy Craig Linnie Burn 125; Dmf. 1912 J. L. Waugh Robbie Doo 15; Ayr. 1923 Wilson D. Burns 195). See P.L.D. § 94. [′jɛlə; Sh., ne.Sc., s.Sc. ′jɑle]

I. adj. 1. Sc. form of Eng. yellow.Abd. 1995 Flora Garry Collected Poems 18:
I min' ae nicht, fin straikin ye,
Yer coat o yalla tortyshell
Ceest on the air a balmy smell,
Its sweet reek yoamt aa ower me.
Abd. 1998 Sheena Blackhall The Bonsai Grower 47:
Dug-pish at the foun o the auld gas lichts in the streets froze yalla ower the skytie cassies. Mochie keekin-glaisses o ice teetit up frae blaik rinks of sliddery frost.

 In combs. (many being recorded in formal or scientific writings, the Eng. spelling is freq.): (1) yellow beak, a first year student at Aberdeen University. Only liter. as a translation of Fr. bec jaune, the orig. of Bejan, q.v. Cf. also (17); (2) yalla cod, smoked cod (Ork. 1974). Cf. (5); (3) yellow elshinder, the common ragwort, Senecio jacobæa (Bwk. 1853 G. Johnston Botany E. Borders 111). See Elshinder; (4) yellow-fin, the young of the sea-trout, Salmo trutta, so called from the colour of its pectoral fin (s.Sc. 1825 Jam.; Abd., Dmf. 1974); (5) yalla fish, smoked fish, esp. haddock (Ork., ne., em.Sc., Lnk., Dmf. 1974); (6) yellow-fog, the feather-moss, Hypnum (Ayr. 1811 W. Aiton Agric. Ayr. 35). See Fog, n., 1.; (7) yalla gillim, the yellowhammer, Emberiza citrinella (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.); (8) yallow girse, = yallowing girse s.v. II. 1.; (9) yellow gowan, (i) the common buttercup or meadow crowfoot, Ranunculus acris (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Lnk. 1831 W. Patrick Plants 234); (ii) the lesser celandine, Ficaria verna (Rxb. 1863 Trans. Hawick Arch. Soc. 29); (iii) the marsh marigold, Caltha palustris (Ork. 1974); (10) yalla gum, infantile jaundice, Icteris neonatorum (Abd. 1974). Obs. in Eng. See Gum, n.2, 2.; (11) yalla gweel, bile, biliousness, a mild form of jaundice (Abd. 1974). See Guil; (12) yalla haddie, -ock, = (5) (ne., em.Sc. 1974). Cf. Finnan; (13) yalla hair, the hard sinew running through coarser cuts of beef, so called from its colour. Cf. maiden hair s.v. Maiden, n., 1.(6); used fig. in phr. a bit o yalla hair, applied to a hale and hearty old person (Mry. 1958); (14) yellow July flower, a double garden variety of the common winter-cress, Barbarea vulgaris (Lnk. 1831 W. Patrick Plants 267). Cf. Eng. gillyflower; (15) yellow lily, the yellow iris, Iris pseudacorus (Ork. 1974); (16) yellowman, a kind of toffee or candy; (17) yellow-neb, a yellow beak (see Neb), (i) in comb. yellow-neb lintie, the twite, Linota flavirostris (Wgt. 1974); ¶(ii) fig. = (1) above; (18) yalla neep, a yellow-fleshed turnip (ne.Sc. 1974); (19) yella nose, a wild bee with a yellow forehead, prob. the miner bee, Prosopis (Dmb. 1964); (20) yellow plover, the golden plover, Pluvialis apricarius (e.Lth. 1885 C. Swainson Brit. Birds 180; Mry., Ags., Fif. 1974); (21) yellow rocket, the wild mignonette or dyer's rocket, Reseda luteola (Bwk. 1853 G. Johnston Botany E. Borders 38); (22) yellow seed-lady, the grey-wagtail, Motacilla cinerea (ne.Sc. 1903 G. Sim FaunaDee” 86). See Seed, n., 1.(10); (23) yellow stick, see quots. Ad. Gael. creideamh a' bhata bhuidhe, the religion of the yellow stick, id. Hist.; (24) yellow taid, a frog (Arg. 1931; Lth. 1974); (25) yellow tang, see Tang, n.1, 2.(15); (26) yellow trout, = (4) (Rxb. 1915 Jedburgh Gazette (3 Sept.) 2); (27) yellow wagtail, = (22) (e.L th. 1885 C. Swainson Brit. Birds 44; Bwk. 1889 G. Muirhead Birds Bwk. 111; Per. 1974); (28) yellow weed, = (21) (Bwk. 1853 G. Johnston Botany E. Borders 38); the ragwort, Senecio jacobaea (Ib. 111); ¶(29) yellow work, pollen, as collected by bees; (30) yellow wren, the wood-warbler, Phylloscopus sibilatrix (Slg. 1885 Trans. Slg. Nat. Hist. Soc. 61); (31) yallow-wymed, yellow-bellied. See Wame; (32) yallow-yite, -yoldrin, -yorlin, names for the yellow-hammer. Also in dim. form yalla yitie. See Yite, Yoldrin, Yorlin.(1) Abd. 1865 G. MacDonald Alec Forbes xxxiv.:
The speaker kindled with wrath at the presumption of the yellow beaks.
Abd. 1868 G. MacDonald R. Falconer ii. vi.:
Robert was straightway a Bejan, or Yellow-beak.
(2) Mry. 1927 E. B. Levack Lossiemouth 36:
It[a dress]'s in aside ma Sunday hat wi' a bit o' yalla cod.
(4) Slk. 1818 Hogg Wool-Gatherer (1874) 75:
At length a yellow-fin rose . . . I wish your honour had hookit that ane.
Bwk. 1842 Proc. Bwk. Nat. Club (1849) 4:
The smelt [of sea- or salmon-trout] having instead of the dark pectoral fin of the salmon smelt, a bright golden tint ornamenting these parts, and which has obtained for it the appellation, among the fishermen of Yellow-fin.
Per. 1910 W. Blair Kildermoch 117:
He had killed four dozen and four burn trout, not to speak of yellowfins, which were regarded as illegal.
(5) Abd. 1871 W. Alexander Johnny Gibb xl.:
As mony yalla fish set down as wud 'a full't a box barrow.
(9) (i) Ags. 1848 W. Gardiner Flora Frf. 4:
The common buttercups of our meadows, and designated in this county “yellow gowans,” probably because they are as abundant as their associates the daisies.
(10) Arg. 1917 A. W. Blue Quay Head Tryst 187:
Peter's latest offspring was showing signs of an infantile condition known as “yellow gum”.
(12) Abd. 1922 Banffshire Jnl. (31 Oct.) 2:
His wares — mainly tobacco and “yalla-haddocks”.
Abd. 1929 J. Alexander Mains & Hilly 83:
Aw've a fine yallow haddock to yer tay.
(13) Gall.3 c.1867:
“I'll take out the yellow hair before I send the roast” said the butcher.
(15) Abd. 1795 Stat. Acc.1 XXI. 190 note:
In the bay of Nigg, near adjoining, grows the yellow lily, not common.
(16) Dmf. 1831 R. Shennan Tales 32:
Here yellow-man; A' paper'd lest it file your han'.
s.Sc. 1887 Fishing Gazette (2 July) 3:
Blackman, Yellowman, Ferguson's Rock.
(17) (i) Cai. 1887 Buckley and Harvie-Brown Fauna Cai. 132:
The Hill Lintie or Yellow-neb Lintie of Caithness is abundant and resident.
Arg. c.1900 Scots Mag. (April 1964) 88:
His father used this name for the twite and he came from Strone on the Firth of Clyde.
(ii) Sc. c.1750 H. G. Graham Social Life (1899) II. 196:
In graphic, if vulgar translation of the term [bec jaune] these first year's students were popularly called ‘yellow-nebs'.
(18) ne.Sc. 1929 J. B. Philip Weelum o' the Manse 11:
A poultice o' yalla neeps did the wark.
(23) w.Sc. 1775 S. Johnson Journey 294:
The inhabitants [of Rum] are fifty-eight families, who continued Papists for some time after the Laird became a Protestant. Their adherence to their old religion was strengthened by the countenance of the Laird's sister, a zealous Romanist, till one Sunday, as they were going to mass under the conduct of their patroness, Maclean met them on the way, gave one of them a blow on the head with a yellow stick, I suppose a cane, for which the Earse had no name, and drove them to the kirk, from which they have never since departed. Since the use of this method of conversion, the inhabitants of Egg and Canna, who continue Papists, call the Protestantism of Rum, the religion of the Yellow Stick.
Hebr. 1814 Lockhart Scott xxxii.:
Most of the inhabitants of Egg are still Catholics, and laugh at their neighbours of Rum, who having been converted by the cane of their chieftain, are called Protestants of the yellow stick.
Hebr. 1901 Dwelly Gaelic Dict. s.v. creideamh:
The religion of the yellow stick was introduced into Rum in 1726.
(26) Kcb. 1795 Stat. Acc.1 XIII. 345:
Fish are not plentiful in this river; a few salmon, sea trout, yellow trout, and flounders, are caught in it.
(29) Bnff. 1790 Trans. Bnff. Field Club (1930) 50:
Upon the 22nd of February the bees were carrying home plenty of yellow work.
(31) Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 410:
The yallow-wym'd ask 'Neath the root o' yon aik tree.
(32) m.Sc. 1985 William J. Rae in Joy Hendry Chapman 40 19:
The ither bird clappit his wings wi delicht and cried, "Cuckoo!" wi a muckle yelloch you micht hae heard faur awa up in the hills. Syne he spiert at Ogilvy: - "You'd ken the colour o a yalla yitie, wad you nae?"

II. v. As in Eng.: to make or become yellow; specif. to smoke (and now also to dye) fish to a yellow 1881 W. Gregor Folk-Lore 201:
Haddocks were cleaned, split, and put in salt for a short time. They were then hung up in the chimney over a fire of wood and smoked or yellowed.
Abd. 1961 People's Jnl. (9 Sept.) 2:
A black smokit fish in the lum, or the yallow haddockies — yalla't in a bowie.

Comb. yallowin girse, -grass, the plant Polygonum persicaria, from which a yellow dye is extracted (Sh. 1866 Edm. Gl., 1947 Sh. Folk Bk. I. 87, Sh. 1974). For second element see Girse.Sh. 1899 J. Spence Folk-Lore 195:
Wool dyed in blue lit, skrottie, kurkalit, aald man, or yellowin' girs.
Sh. 1956 U. Venables Life in Shet. 139:
Even in those days blackin' girse (meadowsweet) and yallowin' girse (persicaria) and the rest of the local pharmacopoeia were already going out of favour.

III. n. A gold coin, guinea or sovereign, prob. short for colloq. Eng. yellow-boy, id.Edb. 1821 W. Liddle Poems 88:
Nae risk Of yellows, or white dollars tinin'.

[O.Sc. ȝalou, yellow, a.1400.]

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"Yella adj., v., n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 14 Aug 2022 <>



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