Show Search Results Show Browse

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

Hide Quotations Hide Etymology

Abbreviations Cite this entry

About this entry:
First published 2001 (DOST Vol. X).

Thoum(e, Thumb(e, n. Also: thowm(e, tho(l)me, thoumb, thowmbe, thomb(e. [ME and e.m.E. þume (Ancr. R.), þoumbe (c1290), thumb, tumb, thowme, þombe (all Cursor M.), thoume (c1375), thome (c1440), thowmbe (1432-50), OE þúma.]

1. The thumb. Also proverb.(a) a1400 Leg. S. xiii Prol 62.
For he wald nocht haf the state Of bischape, his thome of he bat
c1420 Liber Calchou 451.
Or ellis bled of vayn that is abofe the hand betwex the thoum & the next fynger
c1420 Bute MS 119a.
The ynch sulde be with the thoum off midling mane nother our mikil nor our litil bot be tuyx the twa
14.. Acts I 309/2.
The eln aw to conteyn in lenth xxxvii inch met with the thowmys of iii men … the thoum aw to be messurit at the rut of the nayll
14.. Acts I 309/2.
Be the thoume of a medilkinman it [sc. the inch] aw to stand
c1500-c1512 Dunb. (OUP) 133/7.
For rekkyning of my rentis and roumes, Ȝe neid not for to tyre ȝour thowmes
1535 Stewart 12056.
The Albionis … thrang thair thowmes in the Romanis throt
1537 Crim. Trials I i 203.
1538 Treas. Acc. VI 391.
With ane writing to George Scot to bring in ane callit ‘Jok Scot, with the thowmys,’ at the Justice Clerkis command
1542 Elgin Rec. I 70.
Cruvellie halding of him at erd and putting of his thovmis in the said Dauidis crag
1557 Prot. Bk. Gilbert Grote 17.
1629 Reg. Privy C. 2 Ser. III 269.
Throwing his thowme with the raniȝeis of ane brydill
1633 Dunferm. Hammermen MS 26.
Caution for the absent dayis of Pet Bull the tyme of his sair thoum
(b) 1564 Crim. Trials I i 453.
Delatit of the mutilatioune of Robert Macteir … of his thomb of his right hand
1584 Sempill in Sat. P. xlv 795.
1603 Rogers Social Life III 297.
Ane hair belt, in ane of the endis of the quhilk appeirit the similitude of foure fingeris and ane thombe
1608 Crawford Mun. Invent. II 229.
I am not vnmyndfull of the licking of my thumbe, bot … my wordis … wes that I cald not be able to keipe the preceise tyme of Mertimes
1616 Misc. Maitl. C. II 189.
He haid taucht hir to tell quhatsoever sould be speirit at hir be sitting on hir rycht knie and pulling and pilling it betuix hir mid finger and thumb
1623 Perth Kirk S. MS 14 May.
Thair come ane man to hir, all cled in gold, pat his thomb in hir hand willing hir to ask quhat scho waild, and it suld be grantit hir
1637 Justiciary Cases I 294.
1646 J. Hope Diary (1958) 187.
John Thomesone of the Pannes, called with the thumbe
1658 R. Moray Lett. 228.
Your amendes will get some by-stroakes but your thumbs I trow will gar you cry barlafummill
1661 Elgin Rec. II 295.
The stone … ves … of the quantitie of ane thumbe of ane man
1662 Crim. Trials III 607.
We … spang them [sc. elf-arrow-heads] from the naillis of our thowmbes
1665–7 Lauder Jrnl. 152.
That the devil did put his meikle thomb upon Scotland
proverb. a1598 Ferg. Prov. MS No. 1317.
Thy thomb is wnder my belt

b. pl. By synecdoche: Hands. 1584 Sempill in Sat. P. xlv 216.
It [sc. the writing] cumand in the Sessiones thowmes To Maister Wyndrome they compleanet

c. Under thoum, secretly, covertly. 1595 Cal. Sc. P. XII 10.
[I hear under] thowme [that not only he, but the rest of the troop, have secret favour]
1596 Dalr. I 81/25.
Ay and quhill thay war invadet be that potent natione of the Peychtes throuch counsel of the Britanis quyetlie vndir thoum [L. clanculum]
1596 Dalr. I 146/19.
[He] vndir thoume in a toune in Galloway was brochte vpe
1596 Dalr. I 343/3.
Jhone Balie vndir thoume had promiset … to knawe him for his superiouir
a1651 Calderwood VII 562.
It was replyed by one of his hearers under thoume
Urquhart Rabelais iii xxxvi 299.
Privily and under thumb

d. attrib. and comb.attrib. 1655 Wemyss Chart. 241.
Ane thumb ring of gold enembled blak
1678 Wodrow Hist. II (1829) 389.
They had good store of iron shackles, … and thumb-locks, as they call them, to make their examinations and trials with
comb. a1400 Leg. S. xxxvi 882.
As a thoume-bane propirly, That quhytare wes than ony snaw

2. The part of a glove designed to cover the thumb. 1615 Edinb. Test. XLVIII 215.
Ten pair of gluifis with browderit thoumes

3. A standard measuring instrument corresponding to a thumb's breadth, or an inch. 1682 New Mills Manuf. 38.
A couple of allwands sealed by the Dean of Guild of Edinburgh and a silver thumb which George Home is ordered to cause make and send out by which the cloath in all tyme comeing is to be measured

You may wish to vary the format shown below depending on the citation style used.

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



Hide Advanced Search

Browse DOST: