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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1960 (SND Vol. V). Includes material from the 1976 and 2005 supplements.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

HALIE, adj. Also ha(i)ly, helly, hel(l)i(e), and erron., under the influence of the Eng. form, hally (s.Sc. 1793 T. Scott Poems 342), hauly (Ags. 1848 Feast Literary Crumbs (1891) 23). Sc. forms and usages of Eng. holy. See P.L.D. § 32.1. [′hele]

Sc. form of Eng. holy.m.Sc. 1998 Lillias Forbes Turning a Fresh Eye 18:
The peelie mune blintin ower cauld stane,
Ower wally een o beast or hoodie craw
Or halie kists o' kings ...
em.Sc. 1999 James Robertson The Day O Judgement 19:
"An ye that laithed ma haly wurd
An sut in kirk, cauldrife an drear,
An thocht ower lang an oor-lang sermon,
That seemed in yer lugs tae last a year: ... "

Sc. combs. and attrib. usages: †1. haly band, (1) the Kirk Session; (2) holy matrimony; 2. haily Chair, the pulpit chair; 3. haly dabbies, -doupies, (1) a kind of shortbread, esp. that formerly used in place of bread at the celebration of the Lord's Supper (Ags. 1825 Jam., -doupies, Lnk. Ib., -dabbies; Dmf. 1894 Trans. Dmf. & Gall. Antiq. Soc. 145, -dabbies); (2) “the vulgar name still given in Edinburgh to a species of cake baked with butter, otherwise called Petticoat-tails; in Dundee, Holy Doupies” (Ags., Edb. 1825 Jam.); 4. haly dad, a clergyman. Cf. Dad, n.15. Holy Fair, a sarcastic name for the celebration of Communion in country places as described by Burns in the poem of that name; 6. haly-hoo, -how, etc., see Hoo, n.27. haly hoose, a church; †8. Holy Iron, see quot.; 9. Haly Jock = haly dad s.v. 4.; 10. halyman, a euphemistic name for the devil (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 77, hellie-), gen. found in phr. halyman's rig, — ley, — lye, a patch of ground left untilled or set aside as an act of propitiation of the devil (Ib.; Sc. 1945 Scots Mag. (Sept.) 467–475, -rig). See also Guidman's Croft11. haly rig, see 10.; †12. haly sark, the surplice of an Episcopalian clergyman. Rare. Cf. sark o' God, id., in Hogg Jacob. Relics (1819) I. 7; 13. holy toyt, a Shet. fisherman's tabu-word for the sea; 14. haly wark, the work of religion. Hence haly-wark folk, the clergy; 15. holy Willie, a sanctimonious person. (Sh., Ork., Bnff., Ags., Edb., Fif., Arg., Gsw., Ayr., Dmf., Rxb. 2000s). Also attrib. [f. Burns' poem, 'Holy Willie's Prayer'] 1. (1) Sc. 1725 Ramsay Gentle Shep. iv. i.:
Eat in your Words; else I shall gar you stand With a het Face afore the haly Band.
Lnk. c.1779 D. Graham Writings (1883) II. 225:
The blear-ein'd bell-man . . . summoned him and her before the hally-band, a court that held in the kirk on Saturday morning.
Sc. a.1800 Merry Muses (1911) 77:
They took me to the Holy Band, For playing wi' my wife, sir.
(2) Sc. 1776 D. Herd Sc. Songs II. 34:
I'm fleed to crack the haly band, Sae lawty says, I shou'd nae hae him.
Sc. 1810 J. Maidment Ballads (1859) 133:
Get Johnny's hand in haly band, Syne wap your wealth together.
2. Mry. 1806 J. Cock Simple Strains 138:
Yet, fan he tak's the haily Chair, He gars auld-wives drap mony tear.
3. (1) Gall. 1825 Jam.:
Haly Dabbies . . . The designation still given, in Galloway, to the bread used in the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper. This is not baked in the form of a loaf, but in cakes such as are generally called Shortbread . . . Helly is the pronunciation of the term in Dumfriesshire.
Gall. 1902 E.D.D.:
Holy dabbies. I saw these about 32 or 33 years ago used in a neighbouring parish at the Communion, for the Bread. They were cakes of shortbread. They are not now used I think in any church in Gall. [The shortbread is known to have been used in Corsock Church in Kcb. in 1902, but the name holy dabbies is not now known (Kcb.10 1939).]
4. Sc. 1721 Ramsay Poems (S.T.S.) I. 190:
The hally Dad with Care essays To wile him frae his wanton Ways.
5. Ayr. 1786 Burns Holy Fair v.:
I'm gaun to Mauchline holy fair, To spend an hour in daffin.
Edb. 1821 W. Liddle Poems 232:
By my faith they drank it rare, As ony at the holy fair.
7. Abd. 1893 G. Macdonald Songs 1:
For whan we're sittin' sae douce, Nannie, Wi' the lave o' the worshippin' fowk, That aneth the haly hoose, Nannie, Ye micht hear a moudiwarp howk.
Abd. 1898 J. Milne Poems 38:
The wyss His tellins winna tine, Nor Halie House forhow.
Lnk. 1922 T. S. Cairncross Scot at Hame 7:
But sin' I [a weather-cock] guide this haly hoose I'm on the turn.
8. Sc. 1746 Lyon in Mourning (S.H.S.) II. 10:
It is to be remarked here that swearing upon the naked dirk is called by the commons amongst the Highlanders the taking an oath upon the Holy Iron, and is as sacred among them as swearing upon the Bible.
9. Edb. 1813 G. Bruce Poems 111:
Quo' Haly Jock, wi' canting crune.
10. ne.Sc. 1691 J. M. McPherson Prim. Beliefs (1929) 138:
Sixty years later, John Clark in Rothiemay was delated for giving a piece of his land as “helly man's lye.”
ne.Sc. 1881 Gregor Folk-Lore 115:
At Killishmont, near Keith, Banffshire, was a piece of ground called “the Helliman Rig.” . . . In a part of it the rock — a kind of slate — came to the surface. In the rock were cut out nine cups in three rows. Tradition has it that a tenant long ago began to cultivate it. No sooner had the plough touched it than one of the oxen fell down dead.
11. Ayr. 1817 D. McKillop Poems 14:
Frae hauly rigs we maunna flaw.
12. Sc. 1809 T. Donaldson Poems 158:
Ay tell him frankly frae the Clerk, Wha croons his notes like morning lark Before the man i' Haly Sark.
13. Sh. 1894 New Review XI. 621:
To use the ordinary words brings ill-luck [at sea]. Thus the sea has to be called “holy toyt.”
14. Sc. 1827 C. J. Johnstone Eliz. de Bruce I. viii.:
“The best of the board, and the seat by the fire,” had in Scotland, time immemorial, been the prescriptive right of the “Haly-wark folk.”
15. e.Lth. 1983 Mollie Hunter The Dragonfly Years (1989) 58:
'Ach, shut yer Holy Willie gob before I get ma fella tae kick yer teeth in. ... '
wm.Sc. 1983 Christine Marion Fraser Children of Rhanna 1989 pp (310-11) :
He's a hard man to live up to - not because he's ever been a Holy Wullie, God forbid!
wm.Sc. 1985 Liz Lochhead Tartuffe 12:
To believe in False Heroes and Holy Willies -
To fall for kidology and lose the place -
Not look for the true phizzog behind the falseface.
Edb. 1993:
Ye've no had a drink since Christmas! Whit a wee holy Willie you are!
em.Sc. 2000 James Robertson The Fanatic 25:
' ... If it's no guid versus evil it's kirk elders versus longhairs, heid versus hert, Hieland and Lowland, Glasgow and Edinburgh, drunk men and auld wifies, Protestants and Catholics, engineers and cavaliers, hard men and panto dames, Holy Willies and holy terrors, ... '

[Found in O.Sc. from a.1400. ]

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"Halie adj.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 22 Jun 2024 <>



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