The Caribbean Dictionary

peeny wally
1 definition
11
 
Noun
A firefly; A beetle that produces a blinking yellow, orange, or red light via bioluminescence.
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animal
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Leah Aug 24, 2014
In Trinidad we call it a candle fly
Drs Apr 28, 2016
Hmm.... Always thought Peenie Wallie was a butterfly
Adria USA Jun 05, 2016
I saw thousands of penny wallies in Jamaica in a small village when the electricity went out. It was magical. They're the size of silver dollars in the US, meaning huge. Here we call them fireflies but they're nowhere near the size and light intensity. One of the best light shows on earth next to the Northern Lights.
Hanansi_Breda Mar 09, 2017
In Belize we call them Pea Wom
Jill Dec 08, 2019
I remember them from Jamaica, and that - unlike fireflies - their eyes put out actual flashlight beams. What's more magical than that?
Nurse Maureen Jan 24, 2020
I had a patient email me her symptoms and said "I don't know the English word, but I am seeing peeny wally." I googled it, thank you very much for the information. Now I want to go back to Jamaica at the time of year I'm most likely to see the peeny wally with their magical light up eyes. Peace. ✌️
Michael Jun 21, 2020
Is there a song in Jamaica about the peeny wally. Childrens song
Everton Dec 11, 2020
It’s true that the word “wall” has a long A sound, but it’s a mistake to add a Y at the end of wall and have a correct Jamaican pronunciation of that beetle’s name. A more accurate spelling is “waaly”. I favor “waalie” but can live with either. Either way, it’s not a short A as in wallet, it’s a long A as in wall.
Nina Aug 04, 2021
Is this ever used as slang? My mother always used "peeny wally" to describe something small, and I am honestly shocked to learn it's an actual insect. How on Earth did this Carribean term make it into her Canadian slang?
wulf Aug 07, 2021
Lots of Caribbean terms made/make it into Canadian slang. The "GTA" accent commonly heard in Scarborough is heavily influenced by Jamaican Patois.
Rachel Aug 15, 2021
I grew up in St. Clair, Michigan. My mother also used the term "peeny wally" to refer to something small (as Nina noted in 8-04 post), especially in the context of "little treasures" usually things we kids found and pocketed when we were little. Now Grandy might be heard asking her great grandchildren, "What little "peeny wallies" did you find" say on a trip to the beach.
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