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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1974 (SND Vol. IX).

TOUSE, v., n. Also touss; touze, towse. [tu:z]

I. v. 1. To pull or knock about, treat or handle roughly (Sc. 1825 Jam.; Cai. 1905 E.D.D.; wm.Sc. 1972); esp. to sport with or tease (a woman) in a rough, boisterous or rude manner (Mry. 1813 W. Leslie Agric. Mry. 468; Sh., Cai. 1972). Obs. exc. dial. in Eng. Vbl.n. tousin, a rough handling. Now more comm. in deriv. Tousle, q.v.Sc. 1718 Ramsay Poems (S.T.S.) II. 69:
They'll loo ye an ye touze them.
Ayr. 1786 Burns Jolly Beggars Air 3. iv.:
I ance was abus'd i' the Kirk For towsing a lass i' my daffin.
Ayr. 1817 D. McKillop Poems 29:
Then Sandie's buiks I gied a tousin'.
Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 24:
He tous'd the deil roun Criffle-screel.
Gsw. 1958 C. Hanley Dancing in the Streets 70:
‘Gi'e him a towsin', Willie,' one of his supporters said.

2. To disorder, dishevel, rumple (hair, clothes, etc.) (Mry. 1813 W. Leslie Agric. Mry. 468; Sc. 1825 Jam.; Cai. 1905 E.D.D.; Sh., Cai., Ags., wm.Sc. 1972). Also in Eng. dial. Ppl.adj. towsed, dishevelled.Rxb. 1821 A. Scott Poems 122:
A wooer bauld, Wha aft had touz'd her cockernony.
Fif. 1882 S. Tytler Sc. Marriages II. 37:
She complained in an aggrieved tone that he ‘towsed' her hair.
Kcb. 1896 Crockett Grey Man xx.:
With my pale face and towsed haystack of a head.

3. To tease out (Bwk. 1942 Wettstein; wm.Sc. 1972). Obs. in Eng.

II. n. An untidy head of hair.Kcb. 1895 Crockett Lilac Sunbonnet v.:
A touse of lint-white locks.

[Mid.Eng. to-tused, be-toused, knocked about, O.E. tūsian, to pull to pieces. Cf. Ger. zausen, id.]

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"Touse v., n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 21 May 2022 <>



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