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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1956 (SND Vol. IV).
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

GELL, n.4 Also †gill, and dim. gellie, gel(l)y; †galley (Per. 1825 Jam.). A leech; “commonly applied, in its simple state, to that used in medicine, or what is called the lough-leech, as distinguished from the horse-gell or horse leech” (n.Sc. 1808 Jam.; Per. Ib., gellie; Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 227, gill; w.Dmf. 1899 Country Schoolmaster (Wallace) 348, gill; Fif., Lth. 1926 Wilson Cent. Scot. 244).

Comb. gill-towal, the horse-leech (MacTaggart 229). Gellie is also given, phs. erroneously, as meaning tadpole (Fif. 1909 Colville 120). [′gɛl(e)]Sc. 1716 J. Moncrief Poor Man's Physician 112:
Gelles sticking in the Gullet, are cured with Swallowing of Vinegar.
Knr. 1840 in St Andrews Cit. (1 June 1940):
A black leech commonly called a gel-y.
Fif. 1909 Colville 120:
A Falkland man was using a leech for swollen tonsils, when suddenly a neighbour woman looking on exclaimed, “Goavy-dick! he's swallowed the gelly.”

[Gael. geal, Ir. geal, gil, idem.]

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"Gell n.4". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 12 Jul 2024 <>



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