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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1974 (SND Vol. IX).
This entry has not been updated but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

THOWL, n. Also thowal, thowel(l), thouell (Sc. 1845 T. Brown Dict. 137); thow (Cai., Per. 1921 T.S.D.C.; Fif., Lth. 1926 Wilson Cent. Scot. 270; n. and em.Sc. 1972); erron. thaw (Sc. 1741 A. McDonald Galick Vocab. 111); tow-hole. [θʌu(ə)l; n. and em.Sc. θʌu] Sc. forms of Eng. thole, a wooden pin (now gen. one of two) against which an oar works in rowing, a rowlock. Gen. (exc. Sh.) Sc. Comb. thow-pin (n. and em. Sc. 1972), thowal-.Arg. c.1850 in L. MacInnes S. Kintyre (1936) 29:
Though scorlins warpled my thowl pins, My shallop would reach thee.
Fif. 1861 C. Rogers Sc. Character 15:
One day, using the expression, “May the boats be filled wi' herrin' up to the very tow-holes” (spaces for the oars), a fisherman lustily called out, “Na, no that far, sir, or we wad a' be sunk.”
Sc. 1869 J. G. Bertram Harvest of Sea 433:
The whole crew — at least a few years ago — would start, grasp the nearest iron thowell, and exclaim, “Cauld iron!”
Ork. 1880 Dennison Sketch-Bk. 53:
Never a thowal had sheu bit the brackan' hefts o' clips, an' pieces aff o' auld splet tulfers.
Bnff.2 1940:
His oar lowpit oot o' the thow-pins an' he geed heelster-heed efter the back.
Uls. 1953 Traynor:
He was off in his boat wan night fishin' and bruck a thowal pin.

[The Sc. historical form is thow, with vocalisation of l, from O.E. þol(l), id. The -l has prob. been restored under the influence of Eng. thole, †thowle.]

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"Thowl n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 2 Oct 2023 <>



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