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Etymology 1[edit]

(This etymology is missing or incomplete. Please add to it, or discuss it at the Etymology scriptorium.)


wurly (comparative wurlier or more wurly, superlative wurliest or most wurly)

  1. (Northern England (Yorkshire), Scotland) Of an object: derisorily small, tiny; of a person: puny, stunted.
    • [1825, John Jamieson, “Wurlie”, in Supplement to the Etymological Dictionary of the Scottish Language: [], volumes II (K–Z) (in Scots), Edinburgh: [] University Press; for W[illiam] & C[harles] Tait, []; London: Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, Brown, and Green, →OCLC, page 700, column 2:
      Wurlie, 1. Contemptibly puny, or small in size; as "a wurlie bodie," an ill-grown person, Fife, Loth.
      (please add an English translation of this quotation)]
    • 1856, James Ballantine, “The Wee Raggit Laddie”, in [John D. Carrick, Alexander Rodger, and David Robertson], editors, Whistle-binkie or The Piper of the Party: Being a Collection of Songs for the Social Circle, new edition, Glasgow: David Robertson & Co., published 1873, →OCLC, stanza 2, page 158:
      Thy wee roun' pate sae black and curly, / Thy twa bare feet, sae stoure an' burly, / The biting frost, though snell an' surly / An' sair to bide, / Is scouted by thee, thou hardy wurly, / Wi' sturdy pride.
    • [1876, C. Clough Robinson, “Wurly”, in A Glossary of Words Pertaining to the Dialect of Mid-Yorkshire; wth Others Peculiar to Lower Nidderdale. To which is Prefixed an Outline Grammar of the Mid-Yorkshire Dialect (Series C (Original Glossaries, and Glossaries with Fresh Additions); V), London: Published for the English Dialect Society by Trübner & Co., 57 & 59, Ludgate Hill, →OCLC, page 158, column 2:
      Wurly [wur·li], adj. A very small portion of anything is of a wurly size; gen. 'What a wurly bit o' bread, and nought on 't!' [], i.e. no butter, or anything on. The r is often strongly trilled in this word.]
    • [1905, “WIRL, sb.”, in Joseph Wright, editor, The English Dialect Dictionary: [], volumes VI (T–Z, Supplement, Bibliography and Grammar), London: Henry Frowde, [], publisher to the English Dialect Society, []; New York, N.Y.: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, →OCLC, page 515, column 1:
      WIRL, sb. Sc. Yks. [] A small and harsh-featured person; an ill-grown child; a stunted animal. [] Hence (1) Wirly, adj. puny, small; (2) Wirly-bit, sb. a short time; a little way; a small portion. (1) Sc. There's nae a pilchard in my creel, Nor wurlie sprat … They're firm and fat (Jam.).]
  2. (Scotland) gnarled, knotted; wizened, wrinkled.
Alternative forms[edit]

Etymology 2[edit]

Variant of wurley.


wurly (plural wurlies)

  1. (chiefly South Australia) Alternative spelling of wurley.
    • 1862 February 1, “The Burke and Wills Australian Exploring Expedition”, in The Illustrated London News, volume XL, number 1129, London: Printed & published by George C. Leighton, 198 Strand, →OCLC, page 128, column 3:
      Poor [William John] Wills's remains we found lying in the wurly in which he died, and where [John] King, after his return from seeking the natives, had buried him with sand and rushes.
    • 1875, Robert Bruce, “The Black Boys’ Ride: A True Story”, in The Dingoes and Other Tales, Adelaide, S.A.: Printed at "Advertiser" and "Chronicle" offices, →OCLC, stanza 10, page 74:
      And so those boys with stealthy pace / Returned the saddles to their place; / Then to their wurly quickly hied, / No doubt delighted with their ride.
    • 2012, Maggie Meyer, Joan Small, “Monsters of the Cretaceous”, in Big Foot Adventures Down Under (Spirits Alive Series; 1), [Gordon, N.S.W.]: Xlibris, →ISBN, page 164:
      Before night fell, they made themselves a shelter like a wurly by collecting large Wollemi pine fronds from the forest floor, leaning them against each other to make a peaked hut and joining them together with vines. It would offer some protection while they slept.