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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1974 (SND Vol. IX). Includes material from the 1976 and 2005 supplements.

THOWLESS, adj., adv. Also thoweless, thouless (Lnk. 1880 Clydesdale Readings 75; Abd. 1900 Weekly Free Press (15 Sept.)); thaw(e)less (s.Sc. 1802 J. Sibbald Chron. Sc. Poetry Gl.; Uls. 1924 Northern Whig (7 Jan.)). Lacking energy or spirit, inactive, lethargic, listless, having little initiative or capability, ineffectual (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Fif., Lth., Ayr. 1923–6 Wilson, Bwk. 1942 Wettstein; Rxb. 1942 Zai), rarely applied to things. Gen. (exc. I.) Sc. [′θʌulɪs]

Hence thowlessness, want of energy or spirit, dullness, lethargy, stupidity; adv. thowlessly, thowlesslike.Sc. 1718 Ramsay Poems (S.T.S.) I. 76:
Mause begrutten was and bleer'd, Look'd thowless, dowf and sleepy.
Abd. 1780 Aberdeen Jnl. (11 Dec.):
There the dullest, thowless heart, Ye can engage.
Ayr. 1785 Burns 2nd Ep. to J. Lapraik iv.:
‘Conscience,' says I, ‘ye thowless jad.'
Sc. 1816 Scott O. Mortality v.:
The thowless, thriftless, fissenless ministry of that carnal man, John Halftext, the curate.
Slk. 1827 Hogg Shep. Cal. (1874) ix.:
My innocent, kind, thowless Tibby Hyslop.
Gsw. 1877 A. G. Murdoch Laird's Lykewake 81:
That thowless key is aye amiss. when folks my room wad view.
Dmf. 1877 R. W. Thom Poems 17:
O, but single bliss is a thowless life.
Lth. 1885 J. Strathesk More Bits 206:
Bell's remarks about “wasterfu'ness” and “thowlessness.”
Ayr. 1888 R. Young Galston Char. 15:
Starin' thowlessly aroun'.
Ayr. 1901 G. Douglas Green Shutters iv.:
Janet was a thowless thing, too like her mother for her mother to like her.
Sc. 1926 H. M'Diarmid Drunk Man 14:
O that its prickles were a knife indeed, But it is thowless, flabby, dowf, and numb.
Bwk. 1943 W. L. Ferguson Vignettes 70:
His thowlessness 'll drive me wud!
Lnk. 1947 G. Rae Sandy McCrae 21:
Ye haud the rod far ower thowless like.
Gsw. 1972 Molly Weir Best Foot Forward (1974) 112:
But when it came to the sewing machine I was back once more to bewilderment and misery. I hadn't even dreamed I could be so thowless, for I loved the ordinary sewing classes.
m.Sc. 1979 Donald Campbell in Joy Hendry Chapman 23-4 (1985) 66:
Even as a teeny lass
ye tried my birse fu sair.
Sermons are as thowless as
the coorse clashin ye prefer.
Ags. 1988 Raymond Vettese The Richt Noise 17:
here's the wyce tune
aince mair awa an' dinnillin lugs
wi a wow! that disna lippen on drugs
but's a ferlie gien a dicht tae the glum,
tae ilka thowless squeef, tae aa we've become.
m.Sc. 1988 William Neill Making Tracks 76:
A peetie tes thare's nane o thaim tak tent
o whit the haill shaif o his screivins meant,
insteid o gien thir yearlie coamic turns
in speik faur mair weel-kent in Newton Mearns.
Goad, the haill ettle o the bard's been bent
sae ilka thowless philistine kin pent
his 'Life of Burns' owre neaps, aitmeal-an-thairms.
Abd. 1995 Flora Garry Collected Poems 25:
Hivvenly licht poors doon an blins an droons
The dozent, thowless wardle.

[O.Sc. thowlesnes, wantonness, lack of virtue, 1375, thowles, dissolute, c.1420, a variant of Thewless, which appears somewhat later in Sc. The variant may have developed from *þeāw, from the orig. O.E. þēaw, virtue. For yet another variant see Thieveless.]

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"Thowless adj., adv.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 28 Sep 2022 <http://www.dsl.ac.uk/entry/snd/thowless>

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