DCSIMG

Scottish word of the week: Collieshangie

Combatants in the midst of a collieshangie as they re-enact the Battle of Flodden. Picture: Stuart Cobley/TSPL

Combatants in the midst of a collieshangie as they re-enact the Battle of Flodden. Picture: Stuart Cobley/TSPL

Most right-minded people would agree that conflict is inherently unpleasant, and will avoid it whenever possible. But there’s little denying that squabbles, arguments and fights have given rise to a rich seam of quirky phrases.

If you do find yourself in some kind of bother, it might take the form of a bit of argy-bargy, a slanging match, or the perennial Press favourite - a blazing row.

One of the most vivid terms for such occasions is a Scots term that is, sadly, rarely used. Collieshangie is thought to be a compound of the Collie dog breed and ‘shangie’, a term for an object tied to a dog’s tail. When shangies were tied to a Collie’s tail, it is said to have made them irritable. It has also been said that ‘collie’ could derive from ‘coileid’, a Gaelic word meaning a noise or disturbance.

Collieshangie’s precise origin and definition is diffuse - it can mean anything from a minor disagreement to a physical brawl, but in phonetic terms it does not instinctively suggest violence.

Instances of collieshangie in popular culture are sparse. Zoviet France, a little-known but long-running industrial band based in Newcastle, entitled the A side of their 1987 album A Flock Of Rotations ‘Ring Accelerator, Collieshangie Cailin’.

A more familiar source comes from bestselling writer Diana Gabaldon, author of the Outlander novels. Fiery Cross, the fifth in the series, contains a line that reads “Besides, the mad collieshangie of her hair made him laugh,” which reinforces the term’s flexibility.

 

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