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Etymology 1[edit]

Clipping of tallyho.


  • IPA(key): /ˈtæli/
  • (file)
  • Hyphenation: tal‧ly
  • Rhymes: -æli



  1. (radio, aviation) Target sighted.
    (Air Traffic Control): Speedbird 123, New York, traffic at two o’clock, seven miles, a Boeing 737, west-bound, at 4000 feet.
    (Pilot): New York, Speedbird 123, tally.
Usage notes[edit]

In aviation radio usage, more common than original tallyho. In civilian aviation usage, the official term for “traffic sighted” is “traffic in sight”.[1]


Etymology 2[edit]

From Middle English talie, from Anglo-Norman tallie and Old French taille (notch in a piece of wood signifying a debt), from Medieval Latin tallia, from Latin talea (a cutting, rod, stick). Doublet of taille and talea.



tally (plural tallies)

  1. Abbreviation of tally stick.
  2. (by extension) One of two books, sheets of paper, etc., on which corresponding accounts were kept.
  3. (by extension) Any account or score kept by notches or marks, whether on wood or paper, or in a book, especially one kept in duplicate.
    • 2011 September 2, Phil McNulty, “Bulgaria 0-3 England”, in BBC[1]:
      Bulgaria, inevitably, raised the tempo in the opening moments of the second half and keeper Joe Hart was forced into his first meaningful action to block a deflected corner - but England were soon threatening to add to their goal tally.
  4. One thing made to suit another; a match; a mate.
    • c. 1690, John Dryden, Don Sebastian, Act V, scene 1:
      So paired, so suited in their minds and persons,
      That they were framed the tallies for each other.
  5. A notch, mark, or score made on or in a tally; as, to make or earn a score or tally in a game.
  6. A tally shop.
  7. A ribbon on a sailor's cap bearing the name of the ship or the (part of) the navy to which they belong.
  8. (informal, regional, dated) A state of cohabitation, living with another individual in an intimate relationship outside of marriage.
    • 1884, Ben Bierley, “Treadlepin Fold”, in Tales and Sketches of Lancashire Life[2], page 47:
      But I’d advise thee t’ live tally for o that, if thou con mak it reet wi’ some owd damsel, ut does no’ care what folk say’n about owt o’th’sort.
    • 1890, F.C. Birkbeck Terry, “Tally-woman”, in Notes and Queries[3], page 297:
      It is used in Yorkshire, Lancashire, Cheshire, and, I dare say, various other counties. A tally-woman is the mistress of a married man, who is said to live tally with her.
    • 2012, Ruth Hamilton, Lights of Liverpool:
      Don, I don't care if we live tally, cos we don't need certificates except for proof of insanity.
  9. (UK, obsolete) Five dozen bunches of turnips.
    • (Can we date this quote by Henry Mayhew and provide title, author’s full name, and other details?), London Labour and the London Poor
      Then turnips isn't such good sale yet, but they may be soon, for winter's best for them. [] I buy turnips by the 'tally.' A tally's five dozen bunches.
    • 1890, Gardeners' Chronicle, volume 7, page 15:
      A bunch of Turnips, 12 and upwards. A bunch of Leeks, 6 and upwards. Bunches of Greens and of herbs vary much, according to kind, size, and season. Roll of Celery = 6, 8, to 12 heads. A tally = five dozen.
Derived terms[edit]

See also[edit]

Etymology 3[edit]

From Middle English talien, from the noun (see above). Also from Medieval Latin taliare.



tally (third-person singular simple present tallies, present participle tallying, simple past and past participle tallied)

  1. (transitive) To count something.
  2. (transitive) To mathematically calculate a numeric result.
  3. (transitive) To record something by making marks.
    • 2019, Li Huang, James Lambert, “Another Arrow for the Quiver: A New Methodology for Multilingual Researchers”, in Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development, →DOI, page 4:
      The counter tallied the languages people were conversing in while walking along a set route that wove back and forth through the chairs and tables.
  4. (transitive) To make things correspond or agree with each other.
    • 1822, Alexander Pope, quoting Jonathon Swift, “Letter IV. From Dr. Swift to Mr. Pope. August 30, 1716”, in The Works of Alexander Pope, volume 9, with notes by Joseph Warton, page 11:
      I am sorry to find they are not so well tallied to the present juncture as I could wish.
  5. (intransitive) To keep score.
  6. (intransitive) To correspond or agree.
    • 1767 [1705], Joseph Addison, Remarks on Several Parts of Italy &c. In the Years 1701, 1702, 1703[4], page 138:
      In some I found pieces of tiles that exactly tallied with the channel, and in others a little wall of bricks
    • 1764 April 5, Horace Walpole, Letter to the Earl of Hertford:
      Your idea, my dear lord, of the abusive paragraph on you being conceived at Paris, and transmitted hither, tallies exactly with mine.
    • 1957, Karl Popper, chapter 24, in The Poverty of Historicism, FIRST HARPER TORCH BOOK edition, page 91:
      This credulity will not be challenged here; yet it may be remarked that, assuming the unlimited and unvarying benevolence of the powerful planners, our analysis shows that it may be impossible for them ever to find out whether the results of their measures tally with their good intentions.
    • 2019, Li Huang, James Lambert, “Another Arrow for the Quiver: A New Methodology for Multilingual Researchers”, in Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development, →DOI, page 9:
      However, one abiding weakness with such data collection is that people’s beliefs about their speech habits may not necessarily tally with reality.
  7. (nautical) To check off, as parcels of freight going inboard or outboard.
    • 1873 August, William Mitchell, “Shipping and mercantile gazette correspondence”, in The Nautical Magazine[5], page 697:
      I loaded a cargo of potatoes in Dublin, for Bangor and Caernarvon, all in bags, for three different parties—viz. 13 tons delivered at Bangor, which was tallied in and out; remainder to Caernarvon, and was not tallied in, but tallied out.
Derived terms[edit]

Etymology 4[edit]

From Middle English tally, talliche, equivalent to tall +‎ -ly.



tally (comparative more tally, superlative most tally)

  1. (obsolete) In a tall way; stoutly; with spirit.

Further reading[edit]


  1. ^ Federal Aviation Administration: Pilot/Controller Glossary (P/CG), T (Traffic)

Middle English[edit]

Alternative forms[edit]


tal (adjective) +‎ -ly (adverbial)




  1. properly, suitably, becomingly


  • English: tally (obsolete)
  • Yola: taullee