Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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TOSH, adj., adv., n., v. Also †tos(c)he. [toʃ]

I. adj. 1. Neat, tidy, trim, smart (Sc. 1710 T. Ruddiman Gl. to Douglas Aeneis, tosche, 1808 Jam.; Per., Fif., Lth. 1915–26 Wilson; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.). Gen.Sc.; snug, comfortable (Wilson). Adv. toshly, neatly, tidily, snugly. Comb. tosh-looking. Per. 1740  Letter in Atholl MSS.:
You'l be surprised to see how tosh it looks.
Sc. 1776  D. Herd Sc. Songs II. 136:
I gang ay fou clean and fou tosh.
Rnf. 1788  E. Picken Poems 176:
The lines that ye sent owre the lawn Row't toshly up, an' franket.
Abd. 1804  W. Tarras Poems 79:
A dwalling house fu' tosh an' snug.
Dmb. 1817  J. Walker Poems 82:
Ye'll rowe them toshly in your plaids.
wm.Sc. 1837  Laird of Logan (1868) 540:
A tosh-looking venison-pie.
Lnk. 1865  J. Hamilton Poems 94:
Thy bare-fit lassies, tosh an' trig.
Bwk. 1897  R. M. Calder Poems 107:
A but an' ben, a' tosh an' snug.
Arg. 1914  N. Munro New Road ii.:
The Bailie liked to see things tosh and cosy round about him.
Sc. 1935  W. D. Cocker Further Poems 43:
Snod an' tosh the bairns are seen.

Deriv. toshy, (1) adj., neat, tidy (Ags. 1972); (2) n., used as a term of endearment; but this may be a different word. Cf. Dosh. (1) Edb. 1844  J. Ballantine Gaberlunzie xii.:
See how it's keepit sae toshy an' clean.
(2) Edb. 1876  J. Smith Archie and Bess 5:
Weel, toshy, am I no yer ain wife?

2. Intimate, friendly, familiar (Ork., wm.Sc. 1887 Jam.). Ayr. 1822  Galt Steamboat viii.:
We were a very tosh and agreeable company.
Edb. 1844  J. Ballantine Gaberlunzie viii.:
Lang blind Jock an's wee auld mither, . . . As tosh and tozy wi ilk ither.
Sc. 1883  Stevenson Letters to Baxter (1956) 126:
We're a sma' body, but unco tosh.
Cai. 1905  E.D.D.:
'Ey're unco tosh 'e gither.

3. (1) Happy (Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 451), esp. of one who is healthy and carefree (Kcb.4 1900). Deriv. toschoch, “a comfortable-looking person” (MacTaggart); (2) in comfortable circumstances, prosperous (Bnff. 1888 Trans. Bnff. Field Club 26).

II. adv. Neatly, tidily, comfortable, in a comfortable, friendly way (Sc. 1905 E.D.D.). Sc. 1788  Scots Mag. 559:
To him ye mak your tale as tosh As gin ye'd drunk out o' ae dush.
Dmf. 1808  J. Mayne Siller Gun 20:
Shouther your arms! — O! had them tosh on, And not athraw!
Edb. 1828  D. M. Moir Mansie Wauch vi.:
Matters were by-and-bye settled full tosh between us.

III. n. A comely person of small stature, also applied to any small, neat animal (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 195).

IV. v. To make neat or tidy, to smarten or touch up, freq. with aff, up (Bwk. 1942 Wettstein). Gen.Sc. Lnk. 1808  W. Watson Poems (1877) 199:
Wad do the muckle trick at once, An' tosh him to a hair, man.
Ayr. 1845  Ayrshire Wreath 134:
She had hersel toshed up fu' snod.
Lnk. 1877  W. M'Hutchison Poems 215:
O, if ye but saw her tosh'd aff wi' the mutch.
Edb. 1900  E. H. Strain Elmslie's Drag-Net 30:
Worthless beasts toshed up for the market.
Gsw. 1909  J. J. Bell Oh! Christina i.:
I'll tosh masel' up in twa shakes.
Lnk. 1930  Scots Mag. (Jan.) 301:
I'll tosche my curls, pit on a wee bit birr.
Ags. 1945  Scots Mag. (April) 39:
Ye're lookin' gey toshed up like. Fat's on the nicht?

Hence (1) toshin(g), any addition to the means or comfort of anyone, a little extra. Cf. I. 3. (2); (2) tosh-up, ¶tosshle-up, n., the act of tidying or smartening up. Gen.Sc.; (3) weel-toshed, neat, tidy, comfortable. (1) Dmf. 1898  J. Paton Castlebraes ix.:
His coo an' quey, an' his hauf-dizzen sheep, an' mibbee his Shelty powney, an' a' the ither toshins, aboot the Craft an' the Yaird.
(2) Abd. 1898  J. R. Imray Sandy Todd xi.:
I'll need tae gie mysel' a bit tosshle up an' gang doon wi't tae the factor.
Gsw. 1915  J. J. Bell Wee Macgreegor Enlists xvi.:
When Macgreegor was giving himself a ‘tosh up' in the billet.
(3) Lnk. 1904  I. F. Darling Songs 103:
Your weel-toshed hoose, wi' a' things trig and bein.

[Orig. unknown, but prob. related to Tosie as Cosh to Cosie (Suppl.).]

Tosh adj., adv., n., v.

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"Tosh adj., adv., n., v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 22 Aug 2019 <>



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