SWALLIE n an alcoholic drink

During this festive season many of us will indulge in a “wee swallie”.

Swallie as a noun was first noted by the editors of for the 2005 Supplement to the Dictionary of the Scots Language (www.dsl.ac.uk) in Michael Munro’s The Patter (1985): “swally Pronounced to rhyme with rally, this is a local version of swallow: ‘She’s swallied the hail lot!’ A swally can be a drink or a drinking session: ‘Fancy a wee swally?’.” Note that he indicates the original meaning first.

Loading article content

Later, in the 1990s, Ian Pattison’s Rab C Nesbit informs us that while minding his own business: “I wiz jist havin a wee swallie…”.

In earlier times in many Scottish households alcohol was not routinely kept at home except at new year. This was noted as late as December 29, 1994, in the Daily Record illustrating how important the selection of the New Year bottle still was: “Like marriage and cinemas, the purchase of the Ne’erday swally is something that cannot be entered into lightly.”

A swallie can mean anything from a “wee refreshment” to a longer drinking session.

And it is still in use in the 21st century and during the festive period with a beer designed to slake the thirst of Santa after his toils as in this example from the Herald of December 12, 2013: “Beer lovers can savour Santa’s Swallie from Perth’s Inveralmond Brewery”.

Scots Word of the Week is written by Pauline Cairns Speitel of Scottish Language Dictionaries located at 9 Coates Crescent, Edinburgh.

Visit their website at www.scotsdictionaries.org.uk

You can also contact them by email at mail@scotsdictionaries.org.uk.