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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1952 (SND Vol. III).
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

EELIE, Eely, n.1 ne.Sc. forms of Ulie, oil, q.v. Also ilay (Bch. 1891 J. Forrest in Trans. Bch. Field Club II. 13–16; Bnff., Abd. 1942). Gen. used attrib. or in combs. Cf. Ile, n.1Abd. 1914 A. McS. The Bishop 7:
A tattie dippet i' the eely cruisie is nae ower strong for him.
Abd. 1928 J. Wight in Word-Lore (Dec.) III. 149:
[She] forgot tae sort an' full her lamp, an' i' the gloamin' she nott tae rin Johnnie Mair's wi' 'er teem eely bottle.

Combs.: 1. eelie-dolly, eely-, eel-, †(1) oil of any kind (Abd. 1825 Jam.2); (2) an oil-lamp, a Cruisie, q.v. (Bnff.2, Abd.2 1942); 2. eelie lamp, = 1. (2) (Mry.1, Abd.7 1925); 3. eelie pig, an oil jar (Abd.4 1929).1. (1) Abd. 1881 W. Paul Past and Present 128:
For you I'd drink eely dolly Until the day I dee.
(2) ne.Sc. 1874 W. Gregor Echo Olden Time 16:
From others of them were suspended . . .a bunch or two of the pith of the rush to serve as wicks for the lamp (the eely dolly) during winter.
Abd. 1914 J. Cranna Fraserburgh 450:
Prior to that time [1840], all the houses in the town were lit either by the old fashioned candle, or the “eely-dolly,” the burning power of which was dogfish oil.
2. ne.Sc. 1884 D. Grant Lays (1908) 19:
She fill't the eelie lamp wi' oil, Pat in a rashen wick.
Abd. 1929 W. Littlejohn Cottar Stories 11:
Yet it took eleven, and sometimes twelve services, commencing at ten forenoon and going on till night, before the communion Sunday was finished, by which time the kirk had to be lighted up with big candles and “auld eelie” lamps.
3. ne.Sc. 1884 D. Grant Lays (1908) 8:
The eelie pigs an' woo', Were ruint, smasht, or sweelt awa'.
ne.Sc. 1914 G. Greig Folk-Song cxxxvi.:
O there's eely pigs, an' jeely pigs, an' pigs for haudin' butter.

[For vowel change, see P.L.D. §§ 128, 146. Dolly is a reduced form of Fr. d'olive: cf. dolly oil s.v. Dolly, n.1 Oyl-dolly is found in O.Sc. in 1540.]

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"Eelie n.1". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 14 Apr 2024 <>



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