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

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First published 2001 (DOST Vol. X).

Thoumkins, Thumb(i)kins, n. Also: thumekins, thum(m)ikins, thumbekins, thumbiekins. Sing. thumbikin. [Thoum(e n. and -kin diminutive suffix.] An instrument of torture for compressing the thumbs; a thumbscrew. Cf. Pilli(e)winkis n.Chiefly pl. as sing.For detailed descriptions, with illustrations, of this instrument, see Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland XXV 463-475 and The Scottish Historical Review II 228 (facing) and 1684 Bk. Old Edinb. C. IX 165.
John Semple that was putt in the thoumkins
1684 Dunlop P. II 125.
A new inventione and ingyne called the thumbikins for expiscating of matters relating to the Government
1684 Fountainhall Decis. I 300.
Spence … is again tortured, and his thumbs crushed with thumbikins: It is a new invention used among the coliers when transgressors; and discovered by General Dalȝiell and Drummond, they having seen them used in Muscovy
1684 Lauder Notices Affairs II 557.
The thummikins … It's also used among our coilȝiars in Scotland, and is called the pilliwincks
1684 Lauder Observes 136.
Mr. Spence is … tortured both with the boots and the thummikins
1684 Reg. Privy C. 3 Ser. IX 66.
That there is now a new inventione and ingyne called the thumbekins [Arch. Scot. I 179, thumbkins] … that when any persone shall be (by ther order) put to torture that the saids thumbekins or bootes or both be applyed to them as it shall be found fitt and convenient
1684 Wodrow Hist. IV (1830) 99.
The King's smith was called in, to bring in a new instrument to torture by the thumbkins, that had never been used before. For whereas the former was only to screw on two pieces of iron above and below with finger and thumb, these were made to turn about the screw with the whole hand
1689 Leven & Melv. P. 150.
If he does not confess freely, it is like he may either get the boots or thumbikins
1689 Soc. Ant. IV 17.
1690 G. Rose Observ. Hist. Work C. J. Fox App. xliii.
1691 Stirling B. Rec. II 338.
Payed for a lock to the thumikins
sing. 1678 Hay Fleming Six Saints I 51.
Why are you so discouraged? You need not fear, there will neither thumbikin nor bootikin come here

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



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