Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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TOUSLE, v., n. Also tousel (Per. 1883 R. Cleland Inchbracken xiii.), touzle (Edb. 1773 Fergusson Poems (S.T.S.) II. 138; Sc. 1816 Scott O. Mortality xiv.; Bnff. 1934 J. M. Caie Kindly North 53), touzzle (e.Lth. 1896 J. Lumsden Battles 42), tuzzle (Slk. 1813 Hogg Queen's Wake 81); tuzle (Sh. 1879 Shetland Times (22 March)), toosel (Lnk. 1926 W. Queen We're a' Coortin 53), toosle (Abd. 1915 H. Beaton Benachie 176, Sh. 1918 T. Manson Peat Comm. 79), toozel (Dmf. 1808 J. Mayne Siller Gun 2, Rxb. 1925 E. C. Smith Mang Howes 21), toozle (Fif. 1845 T. C. Latto Minister's Kail-yard 61; Dmf. 1905 J. L. Waugh Thornhill 188; Abd. 1916 G. Abel Wylins 30), ΒΆtozzl-; towsel (Bwk. 1876 W. Brockie Confessional 207; Abd. 1920 G. P. Dunbar Peat Reek 41), towsle (Abd. 1928 N. Shepherd Quarry Wood iv.), towzle (Sc. 1725 Ramsay Gentle Shep iv. i.; Peb. 1805 J. Nicol Poems I. 32); misprinted towgle. Sc. forms and usages of Eng. tousle, now chiefly colloq., to ruffle, rumple, dishevel (the hair, clothes, etc.), to pull about or tease in a rough manner. Hence adj. touslie (Sc. 1825 Jam.), touzly, of the hair: dishevelled, ruffled (Kcb. 1900 R. J. Muir Muncraig xxiii.; m.Sc. 1972), tozzlie, id. (Dmf. 1912 J. L. Waugh Robbie Doo vi.). [tuzl]

I. v. 1. intr. To sport amorously, to pull one another about playfully, to fondle, of lovers. Vbl.n. toozlin. Wgt. 1804 R. Couper Poems I. 151:
And by the stouk, the lad and lass, They daff, and touzle sair.
Dmf. 1810 R. Cromek Remains 65:
We touzled sae lang on the sunny knowe-side.
Slk. a.1835 Hogg Tales (1837) II. 332:
To get his ain auld wife to kiss an' towgle [sic] in the hay-mow.
Ayr. a.1855 H. Ainslie Pilgrimage (1892) 334:
Are there touslins on the hairst rig?
Arg. 1901 N. Munro Doom Castle xxxvii.:
A French sneckdrawer that haesnae the smeddum to gi'e her a toozlin'.
Edb. 1905 J. Lumsden Croonings 239:
Ilk lad and lass their glasses pass, And touzzle owre the nappy.

2. tr. To rummage about in, ransack, turn out the contents of in a rough careless way; with out: to fish out, unravel, disentangle (Fif. a.1850 Peattie MS.; Cai., Bnff. 1972). Hence tousler, one who rummages; in golf: see 1952 quot. Sc. 1816 Scott Antiquary ix.:
After they had touzled out mony a leather poke-full o' papers.
Ayr. 1845 A. Aitken Poems (1873) 67:
When priggers or touslers come in for to spy Your guids an' their prices an' no' for to buy.
Abd. 1946 J. C. Milne Orra Loon 7:
I'll bed the kye and keep them braw and clean, And toosle oot their bonnie tails.
Abd. 1952 Buchan Observer (12 Aug.):
A Toosler is a player who eases a ball out of the rough if lying badly.

3. Deriv. touslie, of wind; blustery, boisterous (Slg., Ayr. 1972). Arg. 1917 A. W. Blue Quay Head Tryst 71:
Gie us a touslie gale or a plooter o' wat.

II. n. 1. A struggle, tussle, set-to, contest. Gen.Sc. Ayr. 1816 A. Boswell Poet Wks. (1871) 154:
A chield had taen a glass, and had A towzle wi' a gauger.
Gsw. 1858 People's Journal (10 April) 2:
They took to fechtin' an' were making a rather tough tuzle.
Per. a.1869 C. Spence Poems (1898) 198:
Witches hae but ae dire grip; Their prey escapes if that should slip, And sae it happened in this touzle.
Abd. 1916 G. Abel Wylins 76:
The toozle hings in balance, Tho' oor boys are fechtin' gran'.
Abd. 1922 Weekly Free Press (11 Feb.) 2:
Aw wid like a bit toozle owre th' brod, an' see gin Aw cudna pit ye intull a corner faur ye cudna meve.

2. Rough dalliance with one of the opposite sex (Sc. 1825 Jam.; Sh., ne.Sc. 1972). Slg. 1788 R. Galloway Poems 214:
Tho' I be baith blyth and canty I ne'er get a touzle at a'.
Ayr. 1822 Galt Entail xxvi.:
Be brisk wi' her, lad; she can thole a touzle, I'se warrant.
Slk. a.1835 Hogg Tales (1837) II. 293:
You'll not go up to get a touzle wi' the lasses then?
Lnk. 1858 G. Roy Generalship 79:
A right hearty touzle he gave her.

[Freq. form of Touse. O.Sc. towsill, to rumple, a.1500.]

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"Tousle v., n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 6 Dec 2021 <>



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