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A Dictionary of the Older Scottish Tongue (up to 1700)

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First published 2001 (DOST Vol. X).

Thewles, Thowles, Theifles, adj. Also: thowlas, thoulas, thieveless, theaveless, theauelesse, (thewhes). [North. ME (once) theweles (a1327); thew Thewis n. pl.]Forms in -eif-, -ieve- and -eave- seem to have arisen through misinterpretation of theu- and thew- as variants of Thef(e n.

1. Lacking in morality or virtue; wanton, dissolute; heedless, thoughtless.(a) 1513 Doug. iv Prol. 163.
Bot al ȝour solace sal return in gram Syk thewles lustis in byttir pane and wo
1513 Doug. ix Prol. 23.
The ryall style clepyt heroycall … Suldbe compilit but thewhes [? erron. for thewles] [Ruddim., Sm. tenchis, B. thewchis] or voyd word Kepand honest wys sportis quhar thai bourd
(b) c1420 Ratis R. 1264.
This eild is thowles and wnswere, And ȝarnis play, and al blyth chere
c1420 Wynt. viii 3292.
He wes thowles, and had in wown, By hys wyff, offtsyis to ly Othir syndry women by
c1420 Wynt. viii 5945.
He wes … thowles … for his yowthed To that nature wald hym lede: Justyng, dawnsyng and playnge He luwyd welle
c1460 Thewis Gud Women 145.
Women that has a thowlas hart, Ane houre ore twa thinkis bot a start
c1460 Thewis Gud Women 224.
And chaste thaim quhen thai do mys, Fore wantone thowles [Gud Wyf & D. Our-rekles thoulas wantoun is] rakles is

2. Lacking in substance, energy or power; listless; insipid. Also proverb. 1657 R. Moray Lett. 72.
I trow there would have been a whawp in the rope if you had told me such a theauelesse tale
a1658 Durham Christ Crucified (1683) 57.
O! but it looks wersh, tasteless, and thieveless like; Put them to discourse of religion, it hath no gust, (to say go,) it relishes not
1658 R. Moray Lett. 23 April.
It seemes the pen you write withall is at least as old a scribler as mine: else it would not have dropt such theaveless arguments for my short letters
proverb. a1598 Ferg. Prov. MS No. 924.
Kisses & commands ar theifles chear

3. ? In use as a surname.For further examples see Black Surnames, s.v. Thowless, although it is not certain that this word is the origin of the name. 1532 Reg. Privy S. II 169/1.
Sone and are of umquhile Johnne Thowles, citionar in Brechin

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"Thewles adj.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 28 Sep 2022 <>



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