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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1960 (SND Vol. V).
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

HUILIE, adv., adj., v., n. Also huillie, huil(l)y, huly, ¶huiley; hölie (Sh.); hool(l)ie, -y, hoolyie; ¶hoilie, and ne.Sc. forms heelie, -y, healy. [′høli; ne.Sc. ′hili]

I. adv. Slowly, gently, without haste (Abd. 1808 Jam., heelie; Cai. 1902 E.D.D.). Often used as int. = be careful, go slow, wait a moment, have patience! Gen.Sc. Hence †hoolily, id. (Bnff. 1782 Caled. Mercury (14 Aug.)).Sc. 1737 Ramsay T.-T. Misc. (1876) II. 142:
O hooly, hooly rose she up, To the place where he was lying.
Abd. 1768 A. Ross Helenore (S.T.S.) 29:
He claught her by the claise, An' said sweet lassie, huly, an' ye please.
Edb. 1772 Fergusson Poems (S.T.S.) II. 91:
Ye wives, as ye gang thro' the fair, O mak your bargains hooly!
Ayr. 1786 Burns To J. Smith vii.:
Something cries, “Hoolie! I red you, honest man, tak tent! Ye'll shaw your folly.”
Sc. 1816 Scott Antiquary viii.:
Ca' hooly, sirs, as ye wad win an auld man's blessing!
Rxb. 1847 J. Halliday Rustic Bard 123:
Aha, aul' lass! joost bide an tak' it hooly.
Abd. 1871 W. Alexander Johnny Gibb xviii.:
Heely, Gushets, draw bridle a minit.
Per. 1895 R. Ford Tayside Songs 122:
But hoolie gudeman, see the hands o' the clock! Rax the Books, an' let's aff to oor bed.
Wgt. 1912 A.O.W.B. Fables 29:
The cuddy bore baith, an' hooly did gang.
Sc. 1935 D. Rorie Lum Hat 23:
Jock heard it a' an' turned awa An' hooly gaed his pace.

Phrs.: 1. hooly and fair(ly), slowly and gently but steadily, cautiously; 2. høli(e) be wi' you (dee), impers., used as an expression of incredulity or surprise (Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928)); 3. to come hooly (heely) on, — tae, to have indifferent success, to fare badly (Ayr.4 1928; ne.Sc., Slg. 1957); 4. to play huilly wi', to upset, to throw into disorder (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.).1. Sc. 1721 J. Kelly Proverbs 125:
Hooly and fair, goes far in a Day. Working constantly, though soberly, will dispatch a great deal of Business.
Sc. 1751 Charmer II. 58:
O gin my wife wad drink hooly and fairly!
Sc. 1793 Tam Thrum Look before ye Loup 11:
Hooly an' fairly, lad, there's some o' us think we have little reason to complain.
Sc. 1827 Scott Two Drovers ii.:
“Prutt, trutt! let me have my weapon,” said Robin Oig, impatiently. “Hooly and fairly,” said his well-meaning friend.
Fif. 1897 S. Tytler Lady Jean's Son v.:
Hooly and fairly, Leddy Stair, I'll speak my mind where and whan I like.
Arg. 1901 N. Munro Doom Castle xxxvii.:
Ay, ay! caw awa' wi' yer chanter, Sim, ye'll play hooly and fairly ere ever ye play't i' the lug o' Leevie Lamond.
Sc. 1924 W. A. Craigie in Sc. Tongue 46:
“Huly and fairly” is likely to come better speed than too ambitious efforts at the outset.
2. Sh. 1899 Shetland News (25 March):
Jeemie Willie guid aeft ta shut da rudder, bit höli be wi you, diel rudder wis inside her.
Sh. 1922 J. Inkster Mansie's Röd 56:
Hölie be wi' you, dere I fan hit!
3. Mry. 1897 J. Mackinnon Braefoot Sk. 80:
But 'in A hadna kent a' the oots an' ins o't mysel', A'd a come heely tae.
Abd. 1926 M. Argo Makkin' o' John 25:
I'll leave it in her han's, for I'm dootin' I wad come bit heely tee.
Abd.15 1953:
He cam' but heelie on at the plooin' match.

II. adj. Slow, cautious, careful (Sc. 1710 T. Ruddiman Gl. to Douglas Aeneis). Deriv. ¶huliness, tardiness. Comb. huilie-lookin, having a sad, dejected, depressed appearance (Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928)).Sc. 1715 Ramsay Poems (S.T.S.) I. 66:
She'd gar them a' be hooly Fou fast that Day.
Abd. 1739 Caled. Mag. (1788) 503:
Up the kirk-yard he fast did jee, I wat he was na hooly.
Peb. 1805 J. Nicol Poems I. 144:
Now tup-horn spoons, wi' muckle mou, Plish-plash'd; nae chiel was hoolie.
Rnf. 1815 W. Finlayson Rhymes 94:
I fear ye'll make but hoolie speed In doing well.
Sc. 1820 Scots Mag. (May) 422:
The trauchl't stag i' the wan waves lap, But huliness or hune.

Comb. & Phrs.: 1. huilie-daidlie, indifferent, neither good nor bad, insipid, characterless. Also in form huilie-doddle, used adv. See Daidle, v.1, Doddle; 2. to ca' one's hogs til a huilie (heely) market, fig., to make a bad bargain (Abd. 1919 T.S.D.C. III. 16; ne.Sc., Ags. 1957); 3. to hae huily waan o', to have little hope of (Ork. 1929 Marw.).1. Fif. 1934:
A huilie-daidlie sort of affair it was.

III. v. To pause, halt, hesitate, take a breath (Abd.19 1930; Mry., Kcd., Slg. 1957); used refl. (Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928)).Ayr. 1887 J. Service Dr Duguid 263:
This, or something like this, was Robin's tale. But here I maun hooly a wee, and let Willie tell it.
Per. 1898 C. Spence Poems 188:
Then's the time for you to hoolie And cram your wallet wi' the spoolie.
Bnff. 1924 Swatches o' Hamespun 83:
An' aye as I hooliet, an' scrattit my pow, Doon they cam dingin: the mengie did growe.

IV. n. A momentary pause (Sh.10 1957).

[O.Sc. huly, adj. from 1438, adv. from 1513, Mid.Eng. hōly, adv., O.N. hófligr, moderate, hóflega, with moderation.]

Huilie adv., adj., v., n.

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"Huilie adv., adj., v., n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 28 Nov 2023 <>



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