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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.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

THRAW, v., n., adj. Also thrawe, thra(a); thraave, thrauve (Abd. 1922 Swatches o' Hamespun 59), see P.L.D. § 137; I.Sc. traa, traw. [Sc. θrɑ:, θrǫ:; I.Sc. trɑ .

I. v. A. Forms. Pr.t. as above. Pa.t. strong threw, threow (Arg. 1882 Arg. Herald (3 June)), throo; trew (Sh. 1905 E.D.D.) [θru:; s.Sc. θriu:; I.Sc. tru:]; weak thrawed, traad (Sh.). Pa.p. strong thraw(e)n, threuwn (Sc. 1873 D.S.C.S. 208), threwn (Bwk. 1942 Wettstein), traan (Sh.) [θrɑ:n, θrǫ:n; s.Sc. θr(i)un; Sh. trɑ:n]; weak thrawed. The weak forms are rarely used in the sense of ‘throw, fling.' See also Thrawn, ppl. adj..

B. Usages. 1. tr. To twist, turn (a thing) on itself, wring, screw, distort, make awry, to cause to revolve: (1) in gen. (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Sh. 1866 Edm. Gl.; Per., Fif., Lth., Ayr. 1915–26 Wilson). Gen.Sc. Phr. to thraw a pin in one's nose, fig. from the pin or ring in a bull's or boar's nose: to gain complete control over, “to lead by the nose.” Combs. thraw-pin, -stick, a short stick inserted in a loop in a cord or rope which can be twisted in order to tighten it, a Dwang (Kcd. 1911).Edb. 1773 Fergusson Poems (S.T.S.) II. 163:
Come, hafe a care (the captain cries), On guns your bagnets thraw.
Ayr. 1788 Burns A Fragment i.:
When Guildford good our pilot stood, An' did our hellim thraw, man.
Wgt. 1804 R. Couper Poems II. 27:
Whan auld age begins to thra' Your weak'ning stride.
Abd. 1867 W. Anderson Rhymes 56:
Gin ye marry her, she'll thraw a pin in your nose.
Abd. 1920 G. P. Dunbar Peat Reek 15:
He dang ower lums or thrawed them roon.
Abd. 1929 Sc. Readings (Paterson) 92:
To be a prime fav'rite amon' the lasses an' hae a' the ladies thrawin' their gled necks at him.

(2) specif. to turn (a key) in a lock, (a knob) on a door, etc. (n., em.Sc. (a), Lnk., Kcb. 1972); in 1859 quot. to unlock (a door) (Bnff. 1972); also intr. or absol. Used fig. in 1822 quot. of one who cannot resist squandering.Bwk. 1796 Session Papers, Bell v. King (25 Feb.) 30:
There was a brass bowl upon the lock of the door, which he thrawed modestly, and tried to open it.
Sc. 1816 Scott Black Dwarf ix.:
To thraw the keys, or draw the bolts, or open the grate.
Ayr. 1822 Galt Entail xxxviii.:
He's an extravagant fool; and ne'er had a hand to thraw a key in a lock.
Sc. 1859 W. E. Aytoun Ballads II. 28:
He has thrawn the prison door, And Susie Pye has got the key.
Bnff. 1869 W. Knight Auld Yule 218:
An' dinna forget hoo tae thraw wi' the lifter.
Lnk. 1887 A. Wardrop Midcauther Fair 238, 267:
Sae Jolmnie thrawed the key i' the door. . . . Johnnie snibbit the windows, threw the key in the door.
Ags. 1894 J. B. Salmond My Man Sandy (1899) 128:
I throo the key i' the door.
Abd. 1955 W. P. Milne Eppie Elrick iii.:
A threw the key i' the door an' cam awa up by.

(3) to twist hay, straw, withies, hair, etc., to twine strands of these together so as to form a rope (Sh., n.Sc., Ags., Per. 1972).Sc. 1820 Scott Monastery xxvii.:
A woman that could thraw a rape.
Sc. 1832 A. Henderson Proverbs 2:
Between three and thirteen, thraw the woodie when it's green.
Mry. 1887 A. G. Wilken Peter Laing 40:
A thrawn woodie or a bit o' birk or sauch was fat they ty't the sell wi'.
Lth. 1924 A. Dodds Poppies in Corn 14:
At thrawin' rapes oor hairts whiles lift in sang.

Hence combs. thraw-crook, -cru(i)(c)k, -krok (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 446; Per. 1915 Wilson L. Strathearn 273; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.; Ork. 1929 Marw.; I., n., e. and wm.Sc., Rxb. 1972); thraa-heukthraw-hook (Arg. 1990s); -huik, -hyeu(c)k (Uls. 1953 Traynor; ne.Sc., Arg. 1972), -raip, -rape (Bnff., Abd., Slg., Ayr. 1972), and various corrupted or conflated forms, chiefly of -cruik, thack-rake (Bwk., Slk.), -roop (e.Lth.), thrack-hook, -rape, -rick (Bwk.), -rook (e.Lth.), -rope, -ruck (Per.), thraw-cleek (Rnf., Lnk.), -clet (Rnf., Ayr., Dmf.), -clot (Lnk.), -cluk (Ayr.), -cock (Bte., Ayr. Cf. Cockabendy), -cret (Ayr.), -croop (Ags., Fif.), -crop (w.Lth.), -reuch, -throok (Abd. 1930), thrae-throok (Abd. 1921 T.S.D.C.), and reduced forms throok (Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 446), t(h)rayock (Arg.), a short iron rod, hooked at one end and with a handle at the other, working with a crank or swivel motion for twisting straw, etc. into ropes. See Gwerin (1961) III. 142 sqq., 200 sqq.; also a twisted straw-rope (Per., Lnk., Ayr., Kcb. 1972, thraw-raip). See Cruik, Heuk, n. 1, Raip, Thrummock.Sc. c.1715 Jacobite Relics (Hogg 1819) I. 118:
A thraw-crook, and a broken gaud.
Sc. 1747 Lyon in Mourning (S.H.S.) I. 332:
I leave you the Thrawcrook till I get more hair [i.e. you can take over the story till I can remember more].
Dmf. 1830 W. Bennet Traits Sc. Life I. 74:
The letters-out of ropes were spinning them as irregularly as sloe-thorn clubs, and the twisters of them supporting the thraw-crooks against their sides.
Ags. 1853 W. Blair Aberbrothock 69:
The craeter was as thrawn as a thraw-cruick.
Bwk. 1876 W. Brockie Confessional 183:
Thraw-cruiks, an' harrels for muckin a byre.
Kcb. 1903 Crockett Banner of Blue xxxv.:
Ye are as muckle hers as if she had twisted ye oot o' a haycole wi' a thrawrape.
Abd. 1905 C. Horne Forgue 231:
They made three ropes of hay with a “thrack-hook.”
Gall. 1947 A. McCormick Galloway 207:
The “wylie” (or thrawreuch) which twisted hay ropes.
Abd. 1954 Evening Express (10 Nov.):
The rowan-tree thraw crook once much in use during the period of harvest.
Abd. 1995 Flora Garry Collected Poems 29:
Feerious birlin sleet-raips
Twinet b' the heerican's thraa-heuks i the lift.

(4) to twist the body or a limb; to wrench, sprain (a joint or muscle) (Abd. 1791 A. Shirrefs Poems Gl.; Sh., ne.Sc., em.Sc. (a) 1972), to contort, distort (with a disease or the like).Ayr. 1821 Galt Annals xxii.:
Her face was so thrown in the course of a few minutes that Miss Sabrina came flying to the manse for help.
Gsw. 1879 A. G. Murdoch Rhymes 57:
Ill-luck an' toil hae early thrawn my back.
Ags. 1880 J. Watt Poet. Sk. 57:
What rheumatics had thrawn his banes.
Abd. 1955 W. P. Milne Eppie Elrick xix.:
Gin 'ey'd thraan 'eir cweet on a knap o' a steen.

Hence combs. and phr.: (i) thrawin arms, the twisting the arms or wrists as a test of muscular strength between boys; (ii) thraw-mouse, the common shrew, Sorex araneus, so called from the superstition that if it ran over the foot, it could paralyse or deform it (Kcd. 1825 Jam.; ne.Sc. 1881 W. Gregor Folk-Lore 127, ne.Sc. 1972; thraa moose Bnff., Abd. 2000s); (iii) thraw-wrists, = (i) (Abd. 1928); (iv) to thraw one's cheek, face, gab, head, mou(th), to screw up the lips, to purse the mouth, toss the head, etc., as a sign of pain, exertion, displeasure or disdain, or in 1796 quot. in attitude of prayer. Gen.Sc.; (v) to thraw the neck, †thrapple, to twist or wring the neck of a fowl or, in threats, of a human being. Gen.Sc.(i) Gsw. 1863 J. Young Ingle Nook 55:
I challeng't them at “thrawin' arms.”
(ii) Abd. 1845 G. Murray Islaford 94:
The thraw-mouse and the blinterin' mole.
ne.Sc. 1903 G. Sim Fauna of “Dee” 45:
If a “Thraw Mouse” was allowed to run round the feet or hands the limbs would lose their power for ever afterwards. It was also supposed to cause death to cattle, should it come in contact with them.
Abd. 1993:
Ye needna be feert at e thraa-moose, it'll dee ye nae hairm.
(iv) Sc. 1722 W. Hamilton Wallace xi. iv.:
He threw his Face, sometime his lip did bite.
Sc. 1728 Ramsay Poems (S.T.S.) II. 43:
This sentence vex'd the Envoy Rottan sair; He threw his Gab, and girn'd.
Rxb. c.1734 Trans. Hawick Arch. Soc. (1913) 56:
John, whan he play'd, ne'er threw his face Like a' the girning piper race.
Slg. 1759 Session Papers, Wallace v. Morrison (24 Jan.) 16:
He put his Hand on his Side, and threw his Face, as with Pain.
Edb. 1773 Fergusson Poems (S.T.S.) II. 178:
Paughty damsels bred at courts, Wha thraw their mou's, an' tak' the dorts.
Gall. 1796 J. Lauderdale Poems 60:
I sometimes looket to the lift An' threw my mouth.
Per. 1830 Perthshire Advert. (5 Aug.):
Fat ails your parridge the nicht, Lourie, that ye'r thrawin' ye'r face?
m.Sc. a.1846 A. Rodger Poems (1897) 131:
[He] at his mither thraws his gab, Gin she but bid him rise.
Bwk. 1879 W. Chisholm Poems 63:
An' at the bitter cup o' fate My mou' I still maun thraw.
Knr. 1886 H. Haliburton Horace 17:
She thraw'd her head when late yestreen I telt her I was deein'.
Abd. 1955 W. P. Milne Eppie Elrick xii.:
Ye canna stan being jobbit wi a new sark withoot thraain yer face.
(v) Sc. 1776 D. Herd Sc. Songs II. 153:
There are twa hens into the crib, . . . Make haste and thraw their necks about.
Ayr. 1790 J. Fisher Poems 117:
Lest I about your neck do thraw.
Sc. 1803 Lockhart Scott xi.:
He threatened, that if he were not silent, he would thraw his neck.
Sc. 1825 Young Hunting in Child Ballads (1956) II. 149:
Thou wad thraw the wee head aff my bouk.
Gsw. 1877 A. G. Murdoch Laird's Lykewake 124:
I nurse the gift o' common sense . . . [Which] thraws the neck o' snap conceits.
Ork. 1880 Dennison Sketch-Bk. 28:
An hid was no mair for the minister's sake or thine, I wad traw thee neck.
Edb. 1915 T. W. Paterson Auld Saws 135:
Fegs! we could hae thrawn his thrapple.
Abd. 1967 Buchan Observer (14 Nov.) 7:
The fairmer thrawed the neck o' a fowl.

(5) to distort in fig. senses, to pervert, confuse, strain, corrupt the meaning, intention or correctness of; to embitter; to mispronounce. Hence nonce combs. sense-, temper-thrawin.Per. 1843 R. Nicoll Poems 75:
The friends I lov'd wi' a young heart's love Ere care that heart cou'd thraw.
Gsw. 1873 A. G. Murdoch Lilts 70, 86:
[To] suffer, for the bite o' bread, The temper-thrawin' strife . . . What though he thraw'd the law a wee, An' bann'd the reverend gentry.
Abd. 1877 G. MacDonald M. of Lossie I. xxviii.:
But ye see they dinna thraw the words there jist the same gait they du at Portlossie.
Gsw. 1895 A. G. Murdoch Readings II. 103:
When will ye gie up meddlin' wi' that awfu' sense-thrawin' dram?
Lnk. 1923 Bellshill Speaker (31 Aug.):
It's the same wi' ither topics — They thraw an' they twist iv'ry yin.
Ags. 1988 Raymond Vettese The Richt Noise 13:
a door compromise
'twixt soond, silence, dairk, licht -
the ootward cast o the state o my harns,
catched in a swither, whiles shair o the richt,
whiles thrawed wi doot ... this maitter's fasht me lang,
th' uprisin o Scots, och, I micht be wrang.

2. (1) tr. To thwart, go against, contradict, defy, oppose (Sc. 1808 Jam.; ne., em.Sc. (a), wm.Sc. 1972); absol., to act in a perverse or contrary way, to quarrel, grumble (ne., em.Sc. (a), wm., sm. and s.Sc. 1972). Vbl.n. thrawin, contradiction, opposition (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 192), vexation.Ayr. 1784 Burns When Guildford Guid vi.:
Saint Stephen's boys, wi' jarring noise, They did his measures thraw, man.
Rnf. 1807 R. Tannahill Poems (1900) 95:
Now, wishing Fate may never tax you, Wi cross, nor loss, to thraw and vex you.
Sc. 1816 Scott Black Dwarf viii.:
Speak him fair, Hobbie; the like o' him will no bear thrawing.
Ayr. 1818 J. Kennedy Poems 137:
Fast an' free they swore to gree, Nae mair to rug and thraw, man.
Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 214:
At nature ay to girn and thraw.
Uls. 1869 D. Herbison Snow-Wreath 241:
Their wishes we couldna weel thraw.
Rxb. 1897 J. C. Dibdin Border Life 162:
If he wad only be cross, and thraw me whiles, I micht be happier.
Lnk. 1920 G. A. H. Douglas Further Adventures Rab Hewison 32:
You dinna like to be thrawn ony mair than us women folk.
Abd. 1932 R. L. Cassie Sc. Sangs 35:
Some fligmagairie gars her [the muse] thraw.
Rxb. 1955 Abd. Univ. Review (Aut.) 141:
Nick spared the wife to thraw and flyte.
Fif. 1958 T. G. Snoddy Green Loanings 18:
Hae ye had thrawins in your dreams?
Sc. 1966 Weekly Scotsman (17 March) 19:
A thing I have been thrawing about for some time.

(2) intr. with wi: to quarrel or contend with (Per. 1915 Wilson L. Strathearn 215; ne., em.Sc. (a), wm., sm.Sc., Rxb. 1972).Per. 1816 J. Duff Poems 158:
Mortals wi' fate manna thraw.
Ags. 1850 A. Laing Wayside Flowers 129:
Nane i' the parish maun thraw wi' John Buchan.
Wgt. 1877 “Saxon” Gall. Gossip 181:
They thrawed with him, and would neither sell nor shift.
Ayr. 1889 H. Johnston Glenbuckie 24:
They maunna thraw wi' ane anither.
Fif. 1894 J. Menzies Our Town xxiii.:
They maun aye hae their ain way an' there's little profit thrawin' wi' them.
Ork. 1929 Old-Lore Misc. IX. ii. 77:
Hid's puir waan for folk 'ats behadden tae da Deil traan wi' 'im.
Abd. 1968 Huntly Express (11 Oct.) 2:
He's a cursed vratch tae thraw wi'.

3. intr. To turn, swing round, twist about, to wriggle, writhe, as with pain (Sh., Bnff., Abd. 1972); to curl, shrivel, become warped and twisted. Vbl.n. thrawin, wriggling (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 192).Ayr. 1786 Burns Halloween xxiii.:
It chanc'd the Stack he faddom't thrice, Was timmer-propt for thrawin.
Sc. 1803 Young Benjie in Child Ballads No. 86. A. viii.:
About the middle o the night The corpse began to thraw.
Sc. 1821 Bannockburn II. vi.:
Haste for the strauchting buird, or she'll thraw; and then wha'll get her into the coffin?
Ags. a.1823 G. Beattie Poems (1882) 177:
I'll gar you gape and glowr, and gollar, An' thratch an' thraw for want o' breath.
Sc. 1825 W. Motherwell Ballads (1873) 204:
Thir twa grew, and thir twa threw, Till thir twa craps drew near.
Bnff. 1869 W. Knight Auld Yule 90:
And thraw'd and twistit wi' your face, And glampin' ravell'd a' the claes.
Ags. 1893 A. Reid Sangs 18:
Sair an' lang, oor flowrie thraw'd wi' pain.
Sc. 1897 W. Beatty Secretar 156:
Gif I did not thraw in a widdie.
Abd. 1922 Swatches o' Hamespun 70:
Dinna turn up yer nose, nor thraw at yer mou'.
s.Sc. 1926 H. M'Diarmid Drunk Man 26:
Your sallow leafs can never thraw.
Bnff. 1958 Banffshire Jnl. (3 June):
We hed tae thraw roun' their wye an' syne dooble back.

4. To throw, cast, pitch, toss, fling (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.; Bwk. 1942 Wettstein; Rxb. 1942 Zai). In this sense now chiefly Lth. and s.Sc. Cast is used more freq. elsewhere, or the Eng. form throw. Agent n. thrawer.Sc. 1719 Ramsay T.-T. Misc. (1876) II. 229:
When bows were bent and darts were thrawn.
Edb. 1798 D. Crawford Poems 41:
An' lads gae flocking out bedeen, To thraw the hammer or the stane.
Dmf. 1815 Scots Mag. (Dec. 1934) 223:
Gloamin's plaid o' grey was thrawn Out o'er the hills o' Galloway.
Slk. 1817 Hogg Tales (1837) II. 154:
Close-time . . . ties up the grit folk's hands an' thraws a' the sport into ours.
Sc. 1818 Scott H. Midlothian xii.:
It's thrawing his daughter's life awa to hear him speak in that daft gate.
s.Sc. 1875 Border Treasury (6 Feb.) 324:
The maist deelicate thrawer o' a line.
Bwk. 1897 R. M. Calder Poems 115:
Single chaps rin for the mill To thraw't the hopper in.
Dmf. 1915 D. J. Beattie Oor Gate-En' 5:
Her Rob Roy tartan shawl thrawn owre her shooders.
s.Sc. 1926 H. M'Diarmid Drunk Man 73 75:
Like leafs aboot a thistle-shank, my bluid Could still thraw roses up. . . . Licht thraws nae licht upon itsel'.
Rxb. 1952 Scots Mag. (March) 459:
Gin owre ye fainly she thraws her glances.

Phrs.: (1) to be or get thrown back, to suffer a relapse in an illness (Sc. 1905 E.D.D.; Per., Fif., Ayr., Rxb. 1972). Also in n.Eng. dial.; (2) to throw off, of building stone: to crumble, flake; (3) to throw the band, to break bond, in masonry, to interrupt the regularity of the coursing of a wall; (4) to thraw the nieve, to shake one's fist (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.); (5) to throw up, (i) to open (a book) at a certain page; (ii) to cast in one's teeth, to taunt with. Also in colloq. Eng.(2) Sc. 1761 Session Cases, Petition J. Buchanan (10 Aug.) 6:
The Stones of that Quarry were by sad Experience found to be of the very worst Quality, soft and brittle, and liable to moulder and throw off.
(3) Fif. 1953:
When the ordinary procedure of bonding is upset by the introduction of a dressed stone, such as a sill, this stone is said to throw the band.
(5) (i) Ayr. 1743 Ayr Presb. Reg. MS. (19 Jan.):
Throwing up the Presbytry register near thirty years back.
(ii) Lnk. 1807 G. McIndoe Poems 67:
If ony ane . . . Threw up to beggar boys their rags.

5. Used, in contrast to Eng., without a modifying adv.: (1) to throw away or aside; to throw off clothing.Abd. 1810 J. Cock Simple Strains 135:
Nae langer Bruntie cudna sit, Gat up to throw his jacket.
Lnk. 1930 Scots Mag. (Jan.) 301:
But fegs! It has struck twal'. I'll thraw the rape There's nae mair need to pu' awa and gape.

(2) to be sick, vomit, throw up (Sc. 1905 E.D.D.; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.; Bwk. 1942 Wettstein; n., wm., sm.Sc. 1972). Also in n.Eng. 1825 William Mackie compiler, ed. David Stevenson The Diary of a Canny Man (1991) 18:
My wife and some neighbours has sat with the child steady. He is weak, drinks and throws again. Sleeps with his eyes partly open - the eyeballs moving from side to side.
m.Sc. 1893 A. S. Swan Homespun v.:
It was like to gar me throw.
Sc. 1919 N.E.D.:
I no sooner get up but I begin to throw.
Ags. 1993 Willa Muir in Joy Hendry Chapman 74-5 95:
She's retching and thrawing like ony ither
Uneasy mither,
While her unborn bairns, flauchtering inside her,
Are roaring Soviet and Swastika and God kens what else.

6. To tie (a knot). Cf. Eng. to cast a knot.Inv. 1827 R. Chambers Picture of Scotland II. 303:
You are head of the weavers, you know, you can easily throw one of your knots, and so mend all the broken cups.

7. To give, address (speech), hurl (words).Ags. 1921 A. S. Neill Carroty Broon 302:
“He was throwing me imperince”, said Peter, reddening.

8. Sc. slang: to bring in as wages.Gsw. 1935 MacArthur and Long No Mean City ix.:
His job “threw him” forty-eight shillings for the week of forty-eight hours.

9. tr. and intr. To discolour, (cause to) fade (Sc. 1825 Jam.; Lnk. 1972). Cf. Cast, v., 10.Slg. c.1845 J. Love Antiq. Notes (1910) II. 216:
Ye never threw wi' sun or win'. Or washin' pouther.
Sc. 1919 N.E.D.:
The sun has quite thrown my silk gown.

10. intr. With up: to grow up hastily, make rapid increase in stature, esp. of young people (Lth. 1825 Jam., thraw up).

II. n. 1. A turn, twist, the act of twisting in gen. (Sc. 1825 Jam.; Sh. 1866 Edm. Gt., traa; Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 192; Fif., Lth., Ayr. 1923–6 Wilson; Sh., n.Sc. 1972); a distortion, tilt, warp, kink, squint, obliquity (Sh. 1914 Angus Gl.; I., n., em.Sc. (a), wm.Sc. 1972), also fig.; a change of direction; a crook, curve, bend, turning (Abd. 1911 Abd. Weekly Jnl. (21 Jan.), thraave). Phr. i the traa, of food: on the turn, becoming stale, cooling off (Ork. 1972).Sc. 1748 Scots Mag. (Dec.) 583:
This plough, with a right muzzle, and a mould-board made a little longer, with a thraw on the highest part of it.
Ayr. 1785 Burns Halloween xxii.:
She turns the key wi' cannie thraw, An' owre the threshold ventures.
Edb. 1795 The Complaint 3:
But sittin' gies them [tailors] sic a thraw, They're ay in-kneed.
Sc. 1814 Scott Waverley xlviii.:
Deil be wi' me if I do not give your craig a thraw.
Ayr. 1823 Galt Entail lvi.:
There's a thraw in the judgement o' the family.
Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 445:
They wha canna make a thoum-rape O' thratty thraws and three.
Per. 1842 R. Nicoll Poems 31:
His grip was like a smiddy vice And he could gie a fearfu' thraw.
Lth. 1853 W. Wilson Ailieford I. iii.:
Give a strange bulky unevenness and “thraw” to the narrow skirts.
Mry. 1865 J. Horne Poems 93:
A woman braw without a “thraw,” Ye'll ne'er find late nor early, O.
Sc. 1877 Stevenson Memories vii.:
When the Bell Rock beacon took a “thrawe.”
Ags. 1894 J. B. Salmond My Man Sandy (1899) 66:
The hoose has gotten a terriple thraw.
Abd. 1920 G. P. Dunbar Peat Reek 38, 47:
Wi' a thraw in his e'e an' a hump on his back . . . . . When the gloamin' oors come creepin' doon Oor thochts tak' a hameward thraw.
Sc. 1936 J. G. Horne Floor o' Ling 37:
The thraw o' the back-door key.
Ayr. 1953:
The holes in the muzzle are for adjusting the “thraw” on the plough, caused by the nature of the soil or the uneven strength of the horses in the team.
Abd. 1955 W. P. Milne Eppie Elrick xi.:
Gin ye wis tae get it cad weel intae the kite o' some peer breet an' seen giet't a bit o' a thraa, it wadna dee his puddins nae gweed.

Phrs.: (1) by hook and by thraw, by hook or by crook; (2) heads and (or) thraws, heads and (or) tails; adv., arranged with heads and feet alternately, lying in opposite directions (Sc, 1825 Jam.; Uls. 1953 Traynor), in a confused higgledy-piggledy manner. Gen.Sc. See also Heid, n., 1. Phrs. (11); (3) out o thraw, esp. in masonry, of a stone: into alignment, with any warp removed by dressing, straightened out, squared and plumb (Abd., Wgt. 1972). Sometimes misused as = out of alignment, off the straight. Hence to look someone out o thraw, to stare one out of countenance; (4) rain thraw, a change in the direction of the wind, when it begins to back, accompanied by rain (Ags., Fif. 1972).? Cf. Thravin.(1) Kcd. 1890 J. Kerr Reminisc. I. 44:
The rest followed aifter, by hook an' by thraw.
(2) Lth. 1765 Museum Rusticum IV. 462:
Root-ends and crop-ends together, or, as is commonly called, heads and thraws.
Lnk. a.1779 D. Graham Writings (1883) II. 91:
I shall lie heads and thraws wi' them and keep on my breeks.
Lnk. 1806 Session Papers, Macbeth v. Alston (27 June) 13:
Having thrown her shoes from the bed upon the floor, she asked at the deponent whether it was heads or thraws, and on the deponent's crying Heads, Miss Wood said she had won.
Sc. 1819 Scott Leg. Montrose vi.:
The great barn would hold fifty more, if they would lie heads and thraws.
Sc. 1829 Wilson Noctes Amb. (1855) II. 267:
Thochts and feelings, and fancies, a' lie thegither, heads and thraws, in the great, mony-pillowed bed o' the Imagination.
Edb. 1844 J. Ballantine Gaberlunzie i.:
He's a' outs an' ins, he's a' heads an' thraws.
Uls. 1897 S. MacManus Dhroll Donegal 85:
Themselves lying heads and thraws among the goods.
Slg. 1932 W. D. Cocker Poems 59:
Sleepin' heids an' thraws, wi' the strae for beddin'.
(3) Abd. 1824 G. Smith Douglas 50:
I wish our herds, wha ken the written law, Wad twist their things a wee bit out o' thraw.
Lnk. 1873 A. G. Murdoch Lilts 38:
I cleaned my best specks twenty times To look her oot o' thraw.
m.Lth. 1878 R. Cuddie Corstorphine Lyrics 8:
To the masons o' Scotland o' ilka degree, Frae the apprentice just learned to tak' stanes out o' thraw.
Lnk. 1890 J. Coghill Poems 84:
Banker your stane an' show ye're a mellsman: Ance ye ha'e drauchtit your [sic] wrocht oot o' thraw, Chisel it fairly, truly an' squarely.
Abd. 1950 Buchan Observer (7 Nov.):
If you looked at the great northern seven stars, see the one which he ‘ca'd oot o' thraw wi' the lave! ‘Oot o' thraw' is an accepted term to masons and builders. Of course if there is a “thraw,” crook, bend, or angle the line is out of the straight.

2. A twist or wrench of a muscle, etc., a sprain (Sh., ne., em.Sc. (a) 1972).Per. 1756 T. L. K. Oliphant Lairds of Gask (1870) 291:
My Wife gote a thraw in her Neck which was uneasie to her for some days.
Mry. 1865 W. H. Tester Poems 143:
He didna dee — na, though he got a wild thraw.
Ork. 1880 Dennison Sketch-Bk. 133:
He fand A thra' i' his right gamo.
Kcd. 1894 J. Kerr Reminisc. III. 53:
Let them [shoes] be jaukin' or gie me a thraw.
ne.Sc. 1909 G. Greig Folk-Song iii. 1:
Oh some complain on hacks and thraws.

3. A twisting of the face, a wry or petulant expression, a pout (I.Sc., Bnff., Abd. 1972).Gsw. 1863 J. Young Ingle Nook 96:
I'm bauld to say, I never saw Wi' drink, on Geordie's face a thraw.
Abd. 1884 D. Grant Lays 99:
Most met the lads wi' ready mou's, And never gae a thraw.
Gall. 1888 G. G. B. Sproat Rose o' Dalma Linn 228:
Dinna gang scowlin' roun' wi' a thraw on your face.
Ayr. 1892 H. Ainslie Pilgrimage 188:
Our Lairdie gied his mouth a thraw, An' open'd wi' a loud guffaw.

4. A series of grace-notes preceding a melody note in pipe-music characterised by a casting off of the fingers (see quots.). Cf. Doubling.Sc. 1925 Piobaireachd I. Pref. iv.:
Doublings and Throws. Throw on D is tra. Throw on E from a note lower than E is dre. Throw from E to high G is chedari.
Sc. 1953 S. MacNeill Tutor Highl. Bagpipe 57:
To play this you 1. Sound B; 2. Close the chanter (low G gracenote); 3. Make a D gracenote still on low G; 4. Sound C. Play the throw from B to C very slowly each time.

5. Mining: a fault or dislocation in a vein or stratum (Sc. 1886 J. Barrowman Mining Terms 67; Fif., Lnk. 1972). Also in Eng. mining usage.

6. Fig. Moral pressure, strong persuasion, “a turn of the screw.”Dmb. 1868 J. Salmon Gowodean 95:
If the auld starched jilter, Luckie Law, Could be persuaded, e'en by gentle thraw, To turn her blin' side to our fatal flaw.

7. A twisting of the body in pain, a convulsion; a pang, throe (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Dmf. 1972), spasm of pain, pain in labour, the death agony; also transf. spiritual or mental turmoil, stress of emotion. See also deid-thraw s.v. Deid, n., III. 48. In 1882 quot. thraw appears to represent Eng. throes of winter or the like.Sc. 1716 J. Moncrief Poor Man's Physician 151:
If Throws or vehement Pains trouble the Patient.
Ayr. 1793 Burns Blythe hae I been ii.:
If she winna ease the thraws In my bosom swelling.
Sc. 1805 Scott Letters (Cent. Ed.) XII. 276:
Thraws, is not draws but throws or twists in agony — we still have the dead-throw.
Kcb. 1814 W. Nicholson Poems 90:
In short, we've thoughtless joys an' wants, They wealth, wi nervous thraws an' gaunts.
Ags. a.1823 G. Beattie Poems (1882) 188:
Some glowr'd an' thratch'd, in deadly thraws.
wm.Sc. 1827 T. Hamilton Cyril Thornton xiii.:
She had been “ta'en wi' her thraws.”
m.Lth. 1882 Mod. Sc. Poets (Edwards) IV. 204:
Saft through the dark dell the burnie is wimpling, Newly escaped winter's lang, icy thraw.
Sc. 1887 Stevenson Underwoods 126:
The thrawes o' fear on a' were shed.
Kcb. 1890 A. J. Armstrong Ingleside Musings 156:
Her sweet charms had got his auld heart in a thra'.
s.Sc. 1926 H. M'Diarmid Penny Wheep 14:
Like the thraws o' a stricken man.
m.Sc. 1927 J. Buchan Witch Wood xi.:
My heid was in sic a thraw last night that I canna sweir wi' ony certainty to ither faces.
Kcd. 1958 Mearns Leader (16 May):
A gweed het mustard plaister tae shift the thraws.

8. A fit of obstinacy, ill-humour, pique or antipathy, a perverse or contrary mood, the sulks (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 192; ne., em.Sc. (a), wm.Sc. 1972), also fig.; in 1894 quot., a surly cross-grained person; a petulant child (Fif. 1972). Hence thrawsome, thry [ < thraw-ie], perverse, awkward, to be in, hae, or tak a thraw (at), to be cross or peevish (with), be perverse or stubborn (Per. 1972).Abd. 1786 A. Ross Helenore (S.T.S.) 51, 103:
Your sell as well as I Has had bad hap, our fortun's been but thry. . . . But he continu'd obstinate an' thry.
Slg. 1788 R. Galloway Poems 93:
Lasses were kiss'd frae lug to lug, Nor seem'd to tak it ill, Wi' thraw that day.
Ayr. 1822 Galt Entail lxxvii.:
Some young lad wha, for some thraw o' your ain, ye would na let her marry.
Mry. 1830 T. D. Lauder Moray Floods (1873) 234:
The thrawsome brute was drooned by her ain obstinacy.
Edb. 1866 J. Smith Merry Bridal 33:
Willie Craig's lang-nebbit tawse Brocht me finely out the thraws.
Ags. 1869 E. Johnston Poems 146:
Her foreman had at her some thraw, And frae her wark put her awa'.
Edb. 1892 J. W. McLaren Sc. Poems 111:
A' owre wi' sweat, thro' mony a thrawsome wauchle.
Ayr. 1894 J. Laing Poems 41:
Oor present Duke's nae thraw, man; But just a chiel that's guid an' kin'.
Kcb. 1901 R. Trotter Gall. Gossip 79:
Sae he took the thraw an' wudna dee, but mendit every day efter't.
Lnk. 1924 J. S. Martin Scottish Earth 38:
Fortune wi' me had taen a thraw.
Abd. 1957 People's Jnl. (9 Feb.):
Januar's fair left's wi' a gey thra' o' ullnaiter.
Abd. 1992 David Toulmin Collected Short Stories 183:
Forbie was in a thraw that summer about half-days off.

9. An argument, dispute, quarrel (ne., em.Sc. (a), wm.Sc., Rxb. 1972).Abd. 1824 G. Smith Douglas 119:
Forgather'd o'er the mutchkin stoup, To straight some ancient thraws.
Gsw. 1877 J. Young Prose & Verse 54:
If we 'gainst ilk ither drew, The thraw ne'er lasted long.
Gall. 1888 G. G. B. Sproat Rose o' Dalma Linn 159:
Twa lassies cam' to the temple yett Wi' a thraw that they couldna budge.
Hdg. 1903 J. Lumsden Toorle 75:
The auld Maister an' Robin are noticed never to gome ilk ither noo, whatever their thraw may be.
Abd. 1963 Buchan Observer (9 July) 7:
Never a nicht aff withoot a thraw.

10. A check, reverse, set-back (Bnff., Abd. 1972).Rnf. 1835 D. Webster Rhymes 15:
Wae on fortune's fickle thraw!
Dmb. 1868 J. Salmon Gowodean 72:
Just Heaven will send but thraw To ane who ne'er to mortal grace could shaw.
Fif. 1897 S. Tytler Witch-Wife xv.:
Her growth may have taken a thraw.
Slk. 1905 J. B. Selkirk Poems 11:
I've aye been strong and fell, And can stand a gey bit thraw.
Sc. 1908 Gsw. Ballad Club III. 18:
Wha canna blithely battle wi' the coupin' thraws o' life.
Abd. 1918 C. Murray Sough o' War 20:
Here I hing my heid an' ban the thraws o' fate.

11. A rush, stress, pressure of work (Sc. 1887 Jam.).Sc. 1929 Scots Mag. (March) 455:
Aye in a thraw and aften in a swither.

12. As in Eng. a throw, a cast; by extension: an attempt, “a shot.”Sc. 1831 Wilson Noctes Amb. (1855) III. 300:
At the third thraw the snout o' a famous fish sookit in ma flee.
Kcb. 1895 Crockett Moss-Hags l.:
We will hae a thraw at it, to see if we canna break through the Thieves' Hole.
Slk. 1897 D. W. Purdie Poems 73:
And when at bools we lost oor a' Wi' knuckler on we changed the thraw, And wan the game.
Rxb. 1927 J. Turnbull Hawick 52:
Threi thraws o' the dice for thripence.

III. adj. 1. Twisted, awry, in combs. thraw-gabbit, with a screwed-up-face, peevish, sour-looking; thraw-neckit, with the neck distorted, i.e. hanged.Sc. a.1851 J. Baillie Works (1853) 819:
My wife ca's me a niggardly, thraw-gabbit cairly.
s.Sc. 1898 E. Hamilton Mawkin xx.:
A pair of poor thraw-neckit corpses.

2. Obstinate, stubborn, dour, dogged, = Thrawn (Rxb. 1823 Watson W.-B.).m.Lth. 1882 Mod. Sc. Poets (Edwards) IV. 55:
Nae lad was e'er sae thraw as John!

[O.Sc. thraw, to writhe, 1450, twist, 1420, throw, 1475, distort, 1558, quarrel, a.1578, a twist, 1513, twisted, 1501, thraw-cruik, 1557, the Sc. and n. Eng. equivalent of Eng. throw and its variant throe, O.E. þrāwan, to twist, curl. Throw, to cast, is first recorded in early Mid.Eng. and is freq. also in O.Sc. Thraw, adj., may be a reduced form of Thrawn, or poss. of *on thraw, Athraw, adv.]

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"Thraw v., n., adj.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 16 Jun 2024 <>



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