Ancient Word of the Day: Hooly


Hooly or Huly: Adv. ‘To proceed gently or softly, with steadiness or caution.’ Scottish/Irish

The word Hooly first appeared in English in the 14th Century. It was found in the Scottish expression Hooly and Fairly, meaning ‘to proceed slowly, carefully and cautiously.’

Over time, the word came to have negative connotations and hooliness or hulinesss was associated with someone with an overly cautious approach who was slow to do something. The word hooly/huly survives in the dialects of northern England and Scotland.

Fortunately, my thoughts are agreeable, cash difficulties are provided for as far as I can see. So that we can go on hooly and fairly. ~ Sir Walter Scott. The Journal of Sir Walter Scott. 1827

Just to look that their tackle does not graze on the face o’ the crag, and to let the chair down and draw it up hooly and fairly. We will halloo when we are ready. ~ Sir Walter Scott, The Antiquary, 1816

Travel: Eileann Donan Castle, Kyle of Lochalsh, Scotland. Copyright Content Catnip 2010

In our restless society that always strives for faster, better, stronger – maybe hooly still as a word and a concept still has a place?


Hooly: Merriam Webster Dictionary

The Cabinet of Linguistic Curiosities : A Yearbook of Forgotten Words by Paul Anthony Jones

2 thoughts on “Ancient Word of the Day: Hooly

  1. Great word Catnip. I would go as far as to say that if ‘hooly’ activity doesn’t return to our world, we face a miserable future. Am I hooly when I sit in the sunshine for endless afternoon hours, contemplating? That’s how it feels. Cheers, Kev

    1. Content Catnip – Catnip, The World. – Digital dawdler, foodie, bookworm, culture vulture, rainbow lorikeet perennially in love with the arts, history and science. Constantly seeking inspiring people, knowledge and places.
      Content Catnip says:

      It sounds lovely Kev, enjoying the sunshine and the afternoon contemplating, yes definitely a hooly pursuit. Hope you are going well, thank you for your comment, take care 🙂

Leave a Reply