Wednesday, 15 December 2010


Recently on a visit to Ballyclare I was talking to my DUP colleague Paul Girvan MLA and in the course of the conversation he used the word caleeried.  I was unfamiliar with it but checked it out afterwards in the Scottish National Dictionary and there it was.  As a noun the word caleery means 'a silly, light-hearted person, a harum-scarum' and as an adjective the word caleeried means 'light, vain, full of mischief''.

The word is found in Ulster but seems to be unknown in Scotland and two of the examples of usage were from the Ballyclare author Archibald McIlroy, who used it in 1897 in his book When Lint was in the Bell and then again in 1900 in By Lone Craig-Linnie Burn.  It also appeared in 1880 in W H Patterson's Glossary of Antrim and Down and again in the Northern Whig newspaper on 14 December 1931.

The word seems to have been borrowed into Ulster-Scots from the Irish verb caleer, which means 'to caper or jump' and that in turn may be a corruption of the English dialect word caleever, which has the same meaning.

It is good to hear these old Ulster-Scots words being used today for the language is part of our cultural wealth and it has such a rich vocabulary.

1 comment:

  1. being reared for a large part in and around Kirkcudbrightshire in Galloway another word `ken` or `i dinnae ken` meaning `know` or `i don`t know` , never heard it used in Glasgow / Paisley during my Uni years but heard it used a couple of years ago by a fella from Ballymoney!