From Center English cole (coal) + -y.



colly (comparative collier, superlative colliest)

  1. (Britain, dialect) black as coal
    [] 4 colly birds [] – Twelve Days of Christmas


colly (third-person singular easy current collies, current participle collying, easy previous and previous participle collied)

  1. (transitive, archaic) to make black, as with coal
    • Thou hast not collied thy face sufficient, stinkard
    • c. 1595–1596, William Shakespeare, “A Midsommer Nights Dreame”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies: Revealed In line with the True Originall Copies (First Folio), London: [] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, printed 1623, OCLC 606515358, [Act I, scene i]:

      Transient because the lighting within the collied evening.

    • 1861, George Eliot, “Chapter 14”, in Silas Marner:

      Not as I might discover i’ my coronary heart to let him keep i’ the coal-hole extra nor a minute, nevertheless it was sufficient to colly him throughout. . . .



colly (plural collies)

  1. (Britain, dialect) Soot.
    (Can we discover and add a citation of Burton to this entry?)
  2. (Britain, dialect) A blackbird
  3. (dated) Various spelling of collie
    • 1833, William Craig Brownlee, The Whigs of Scotland: Or, The Final of the Stuarts, vol. 2[1], web page 30:

      Can a Whig lick the toes o’ the tyrant wha usurps oor Lord’s throne, and settle for o’ ane indulgence frae him, hurled to him as a bane to a colly canine, binding himself to suppose as he thinks, and to evangelise as he wulls it; and to flatter tyranny in church and state, to win a paltry boon!

    • 1847, Thomas Miller, The Boy’s Nation Ebook[2], web page 80:

      On the moors and mountains of Scotland the shepherd sends out his colly with the sheep, far out of his sight, acutely aware that when he units out to search for them, they are going to be discovered herded safely collectively.

    • 1861, Francis Galton, Trip Vacationers and Notes of Journey in 1860[3], web page 139:

      Colly canine’s early coaching is a impolite one, however I feel that it’s mutual, and that the shepherd picks up a great deal of canine through the course of.

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