Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)
About this entry:
First published 1974 (SND Vol. IX).
TOW, n.1 Also †towe. [tʌu]
1. As in Eng., flax or hemp fibre. Sc. combs., phrs. and derivs.: (1) (like) fire and tow, see Fire, III. 2.; (2) tap o' tow, see Tap, n.1, 2.; (3) to gie one's rock anither tow, to give one something else to think of; (4) to hae ither tow on one's rock (Sc. 1825 Jam.), — ither tow to tease (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.; Uls. 1953 Traynor), to have other concerns, other business to attend to, other intentions in mind, used gen. proverbially. See also Rock, n.2; (5) to set the low to one's ain tow, to be involved in trouble of one's own making, to be hoist on one's own petard; (6) tow ban(d), a strap or band made of woven tow; the waist-band of a skirt or trousers (Bnff., Abd. 1972). Also attrib.; (7) tow-card, a toothed instrument from combing flax. See Caird, n.2; (8) tow(e)n, made of or consisting of tow; (9) tow fud, the waste material from processed flax; also applied contemptuously to a person. For the second element cf. mill-fud s.v. Mill, n., 1. (25); (10) tow-grown, of old weathered or wizened wood: reduced to a fibrous state; (11) tow-gun, a pop-gun with tow wadding (Ayr. 1923 Wilson Dial. Burns 191; Ags., Slg., Ayr. 1972); (12) towie, (i) adj., like tow in texture or colour, flaxen. Adj. towie-heidit, flaxen-haired (Bwk. 1972); (ii) n., a factory hand who collects and packs tow after heckling (Ags. 1972); (13) tow-plucker, a flax-heckler (Sc. 1911 S.D.D.); †(14) tow rape, a rope of hemp, sc. the hangman's rope; †(15) tow-rock, a distaff used in spinning hemp; †(16) tow-tap, the bunch of flax or hemp put on the distaff at one time for spinning.(3) Rnf. 1819 Harp Rnf. (Motherwell) 163:
I'll gie his rock anither tow, And gar the body change his tune.(4) Sc. 1736 Ramsay Proverbs (1776) 39:
I have another tow on my rock.Sc. 1756 M. Calderwood Journal (M.C.) 155:
The Dutch has some other tow in their rock.Slk. 1818 Hogg B. of Bodsbeck xvi.:
The king has gotten ither tow to tease than persecuting Whigs.Rxb. 1821 A. Scott Poems 55:
For on their rocks now focks hae ither tow, Then ware their spite sae sair on me and yow.(5) Edb. 1897 W. Beatty Secretar xxvii.:
Gif she will talk, she'll maybe set the low to her ain tow.(6) Edb. 1816 J. Aikman Poems 237:
An' shortly in a tou-ban' tether He brought me down.(7) Gsw. 1725 Table of Dues of the Bridge, etc. of Gsw. (1 June):
Every Pair of Wooling or Tow-cards . . . 4d.m.Lth. 1801 J. Thomson Poems 9:
A pair o' gude tow-cards.Ayr. 1833 J. Kennedy G. Chalmers 156:
To shape the letters wi' a burnt stick on the back o' a tow-card.(8) Dmf. 1755 W. A. J. Prevost Annals Dmf. Dales (1954) 87:
His wife is to spin six slips of town yarn.(9) Dmf. 1875 P. Ponder Kirkcumdoon 20:
Lucky Rae wi' a governess! an auld towfud, her faither a dirty, raggit, oogly foumart een'd cretur.(10) Sh. 1959 New Shetlander No. 51. 12:
A piece of a life belt and a towgrown pit prop.(11) Ayr. 1833 J. Kennedy G. Chalmers 132:
He wadna been aff wi' Miss Dawson as clean as a tow-gun.Gsw. 1860 Justiciary Reports (1861) 663:
He had a tow-gun, or something of that kind, and was going to teach them to be soldiers.Rnf. 1871 J. Nicholson Idylls 53:
Nane can fire a towgun like oor Wee Kate.wm.Sc. a.1930 N. Munro Looker-on (1933) 181:
Jumping-jacks, dolls, peeries, tow-guns.(12) (i) Abd. 1924 Scottish Tongue (Will) 141:
Wi' a towie bit powie o' flaxeny hue.(ii) Ags. 1928 H. Lauder Roamin' 37:
My task at Gordon's Mill was to be a “towie”.(14) Kcb. 1902 Crockett Dark o' the Moon xxxix.:
Saunders Lennox's tow rape will break mony a promise on Monday mornin' by nine o' Kirkcudbright clock.(15) Ayr. c.1770 R. Chambers Pop. Rhymes (1870) 82:
The spindle in the tae hand and the tow-rock in the tither.Lnk. a.1779 D. Graham Writings (1883) II. 19:
Tugging at their tow rocks.Edb. 1788 D. Crawford Poems 53:
She liv'd right snugly in a glen, Wi' her tow-rock.(16) Edb. 1851 A. MacLagan Sketches 241:
The tears o'er the tow-tap will whiles fa' like rain.
2. A stuffing or wadding of tow for a pop-gun.Lth. 1928 S. A. Robertson With Double Tongue 27:
The tae tow drives the tither oot, like wi' the bountree shootin'.
3. A mop of unkempt hair.Lth. 1920 A. Dodds Songs of Fields 27:
Her auld grey tow turned tae a lowe O' ringlets lang and gowden.
You may wish to vary the format shown below depending on the citation style used.
"Tow n.1". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 27 Jun 2022 <http://www.dsl.ac.uk/entry/snd/tow_n1>