Definition of gillie in English:


(also ghillie)


  • 1(in Scotland) a man or boy who attends someone on a hunting or fishing expedition.

    • ‘My gillie did once report seeing some character walking along a shallow burn in wellington boots, waving a couple of coat hangers.’
    • ‘In maybe three more minutes it would have been netted by the gillie, knocked on the head, to be displayed later on outside the hotel dining room.’
    • ‘After a while I was joined by Kenny, the local ghillie.’
    • ‘The gillie's lodge to the east of the original manor consists of a living room, kitchen, two bedrooms and bathroom.’
    • ‘The committee decided not to take evidence from the Crofting Counties Fishing Rights Group, which represents some 500 gillies, river bailiffs and other river workers in the Highlands.’
    1. 1.1historical A Highland chief's attendant.
      • ‘Queen Victoria ‘inherited’ the gillie John Brown when she bought the Balmoral estate in 1848 and he became a close personal confidante, particularly after her husband, Prince Albert, died in 1861.’
      • ‘The next year the Royal Family bought the 17,400-acre Balmoral for 30,000 guineas, and in 1858 John Brown took Archibald Frazer Macdonald's place as personal gillie to Prince Albert.’
  • 2usually ghillieA type of shoe with laces along the instep and no tongue, used especially for Scottish country dancing.


Late 16th century: from Scottish Gaelic gille ‘lad, servant’. The word was also found in the term gilliewetfoot, denoting a servant who carried the chief over a stream, used as a contemptuous name by Lowlanders for the follower of a Highland chief. gillie (sense 2) dates from the 1930s.