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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1976 (SND Vol. X).
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

WALY, int., n., v. Also walie, wall(e)y. [′wɑle, ′wǫle, ′wele]

I. int. As an exclamation of sorrow: alas!, woe is me!, oh dear! (Per., Ayr. 1915–23 Wilson). Also in n.Eng. dial. Also in expanded form walleyfu, by a misunderstanding of the phr. in II.Sc. 1726 Ramsay T.-T. Misc. (1876) I. 179:
O waly, waly up the bank, And waly, waly down the brae.
Edb. 1828 M. & M. Corbett Tales & Leg. III. 34:
My mistress thought it was the collies had done a' the mischief, and she cried ben to us, “Oh, walleyfu', walleyfu', thae wearyfu' dogs!”
Peb. 1847 R. Chambers Pop. Rhymes 182:
Deuk's dub afore the door — There fell I! A' the lave cried ‘Waly! waly!' But I cried ‘Feigh, fye!'
Bnff. 1869 W. Knight Auld Yule 72:
My couthie mate, oh, waly! now Hae I mair cause for joy than thou?
Edb. 1894 J. W. M'Laren Tibbie and Tam 41:
But walie! the sicht gar'd even puir Baudrons jump nearly four feet wi' fricht.
Fif. 1895 S. Tytler Kincaid's Widow xviii.:
Waly! that her waefu' weird should be that of the ‘headed Queen's Marie.'

II. n. from I. used subst. in phrs., esp. in ballad usage: (1) the walie o't, the pity of it!; (2) waly fa- and in tautological forms walyfu, wal(l)ifou fa-, woe betide —, devil take —, a plague on —; (3) waly is —, woe is —, Cf. Weary, n.(1) Sc. 1824 Earl of Errol in Child Ballads (1956) IV. 290:
The wally o't, the wally o't.
(2) Abd. c.1760 J. Skinner Amusements (1809) 98:
But that camsteary what-d'ye-caw't (I think it's genius, walie fa't).
Sc. 1776 D. Herd Sc. Songs II. 214:
O waly fu fa the cat! For she has bred muckle wanease.
Lnk. a.1779 D. Graham Writings (1883) II. 53:
A wally fa' me gin I kend ye.
Ayr. 1795 Burns News, Lasses iii.:
Waly fa' the ley-crap, For I maun till'd again.
Sc. 1819 Jacobite Relics (Hogg) I. 37:
Walyfu' fa' the time Whan Willie the wag came here!
Sc. 1824 Eppie Morrie in Child Ballads No. 223 xiv.:
Wally fa you, Willie, That ye could nae prove a man.
(3) Sc. a.1820 Heiress of Northumberland in Child Ballads (1956) V. 208:
Waly's my love wi' the life that she wan.

III. v. Nonce reduplic. form in vbl.n. wally-wallying, lamentation. Cf. Galt's similar usage of Walawa, v.Ayr. 1821 Galt Annals xvii.:
Such a wally-wallying as the news of this caused at every door.

[Prob. a reduced form of Walawa.]

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"Waly interj., n., v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 30 Nov 2023 <>



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