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From Middle English cole (coal) + -y


colly (comparative collier, superlative colliest)

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


colly (third-person singular simple present collies, present participle collying, simple past and past participle collied)

  1. (transitive, archaic) to make black, as with coal
    • Ben Jonson
      Thou hast not collied thy face enough.
    • Shakespeare
      Brief as the lighting in the collied night.
    • 1861, George Eliot, “Chapter 14”, in Silas Marner:
      Not as I could find i' my heart to let him stay i' the coal-hole more nor a minute, but it was enough to colly him all over. . . .



colly (plural collies)

  1. (Britain, dialect) Soot.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Burton to this entry?)
  2. (Britain, dialect) A blackbird
  3. (dated) Alternative spelling of collie
    • 1833, William Craig Brownlee, The Whigs of Scotland: Or, The Last of the Stuarts, vol. 2[1], page 30:
      Can a Whig lick the feet o' the tyrant wha usurps oor Lord's throne, and accept o' ane indulgence frae him, hurled to him as a bane to a colly dog, binding himself to think as he thinks, and to preach as he wulls it; and to flatter tyranny in church and state, to win a paltry boon!
    • 1847, Thomas Miller, The Boy's Country Book[2], page 80:
      On the moors and mountains of Scotland the shepherd sends out his colly with the sheep, far out of his sight, conscious that when he sets out to look for them, they will be found herded safely together.
    • 1861, Francis Galton, Vacation Tourists and Notes of Travel in 1860[3], page 139:
      Colly dog's early training is a rude one, but I think that it is mutual, and that the shepherd picks up a good deal of dog during the process.

See alsoEdit