It’s blowing a hoolie

Yesterday I spotted the interesting expression ‘it’s blowing a hoolie‘ on a friend’s facebook page. From the context I guessed it meant that it was very windy.

According to A Way with Words, to blow a hoolie means ‘(of weather) to storm; to forcefully gust, blow, and rain.’ It is perhaps connected to hooley, which is defined by Cassell’s Dictionary of Slang as “a rip-roaring party” and comes from Ireland.

The OED suggests that hoolie /hu(:)li/ comes from the Orkney Scots word hoolan (strong gale), from an unattested Norn form of the Old Icelandic ýlun (howling, wailing).

Have you come accross this expression before, or do you use it? Do you have any other expressions for describing windy, stormy weather?

This entry was posted in English, Etymology, Language.

5 Responses to It’s blowing a hoolie

  1. Andrew says:

    Well, the obvious one (I think it’s American in origin though it may be British, I’m not sure) is: “It’s raining cats and dogs.”

    If you live anywhere in New England you know almost certainly know what a “Noreaster” is, according to Urban Dictionary:

    “A coastal storm which forms off of the east coast of the United States. Mainly occuring around the winter months. Can produce heavy rain and/or snow. Characterized by its movement and wind direction along the coast.

    Some of the largest winter storms occur from Noreasters on the east coast.”

    I’ve also heard “It’s really coming down outside!” in reference to heavy rainfall.


  2. Duncan says:

    It’s blowing a hoolie. As a Scottish mariner I often hear it on the VHF, when two skippers may be jawing about their catch or their voyage. “Aye it’s blawing a hooley ower here.” Probably force ten North Westerly.

    Found on Google.

    Blowing a Hooley

    The Hooley River is located in India and runs through Calcutta. “It’s blowing a HOOLEY”, comes from when steamship captains were unable to sail up the river, due to high winds.

    Seems plausible.

    On the subject of raining cats and dogs very little is known about that expression. Other than that animals and fish do sometimes find them selves lifted aloft and dumped where they did not wish to be, by extreme weather events. I would bet it is a mariners expression though.

    Talking of which I witnessed an event in Aberdeen once as I was driving out of the city through Torry. I was following a small truck with open boxes of fish on the back, which the seagulls were diving on to try and get one. One bird managed to lift one and fly up with it to be attacked by another, causing the fish to fall, it landed at the feet of this wee old woman, who was shuffling along the street, who looked at the sky and then scooped the fish in to her bag. It was a big fish. She has such a look of blissful happiness on here face as I passed her. I can just imagine the story she made from that.

  3. Michel says:

    In French we would say :
    “il fait un vent à décorner les boeufs!”
    (the wind is so strong it could remove the horns from the oxen).

  4. dreaminjosh says:

    I know in the Southern USA around NC/SC I’ve heard people refer to sudden gusts of cold wind during the winter as “the hawk.” I’ve heard my dad exclaim “MAN, that hawk is out today!” numerous times during my childhood.

  5. Kris says:

    I would agree with Duncan’s Google find.
    My father, a Master Mariner, used that word to discribe very windy days. He sailed the Indian ocean and Far East, and would have used the port of Cacutta. Hooghly was the spelling of the river’s name at that time. Pre-independence.

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