one of a breed of dogs having a usually long, black, tan, and white or sable and white coat, raised originally in Scotland for herding sheep.

Origin of collie

1645–55; perhaps Scots colle coal (in reference to the original coloration of the breed) + -ie; compare Middle English Colle dog's name
Related formscol·lie·like, adjective


[kol-ee]British Dialect

verb (used with object), col·lied, col·ly·ing.

to blacken as with coal dust; begrime.


grime; soot.

Origin of colly

1555–65; variant of collow (v.), Middle English colwen, derivative of Old English col coal; see -y1 Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for collies

Historical Examples of collies

British Dictionary definitions for collies



any of several silky-coated breeds of dog developed for herding sheep and cattleSee Border collie, rough collie, bearded collie

Word Origin for collie

C17: Scottish, probably from earlier colie black with coal dust, from cole coal


noun plural -lies

soot or grime, such as coal dust

verb collies, collying or collied

(tr) to begrime; besmirch

Word Origin for colly

C16: ultimately from Old English col coal
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for collies



1650s, possibly from dialectal coaly "coal-black," the color of some breeds (cf. colley, "sheep with black face and legs," attested from 1793; Middle English colfox, "coal-fox," a variety of fox with tail and both ears tipped with black; and colley, Somerset dialectal name for "blackbird"). Or from Scandinavian proper name Colle, which is known to have been applied to dogs in Middle English ("Ran Colle our dogge, and Talbot, and Gerlond" [Chaucer]); or perhaps a convergence of the two.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper