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  • Paul Anthony Jones


(n.) a violent, noisy argument

portrait of queen victoria

Victorian-era language crops up fairly regularly on the HH Twitter feed, but there’s one word that’s so Victorian it was even used by Queen Victoria herself: a collieshangie is a noisy argument.

Admittedly, though we’re labelling it a Victorian term here (as that’s when it first gained any wider currency), the word collieshangie itself has its roots in eighteenth-century Scotland. It probably began life as culleshnagee, or cullyshang, an old Scots dialect word presumed to be a compound of collie, as in the sheepdog, and shangie, a word used for both a noisy quarrel, and a restraint attached to a dog’s tail to make it behave. Either way, collieshangie can fairly confidently be said to derive from one very angry and very noisy dog.

What does all that have to do with Queen Victoria? Well, in a diary entry on 6 September 1869, written while staying at Invertrossachs, near Callander in Perthshire, the queen wrote:

Misty early, and then beautiful and clear and very hot. Got up with a bad headache. At five minutes to eleven rode off with Beatrice, good Sharp going with us and having occasional “collie-shangies” with collies when we came near cottages.

When Queen Victoria’s diaries were later published, a helpful footnote explained that this peculiar word was “A Scotch [sic] word for quarrels or ‘rows’, but taken from fights between collies”.


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