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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1974 (SND Vol. IX). Includes material from the 2005 supplement.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

TREWS, n. Also troose, trouse, trowse, trowze, trues, truis(h). [tru:z]

1. A close-fitting pair of trousers, gen. of a tartan pattern, with the legs extended to cover the feet, worn formerly by Highlanders. Gen.Sc., hist.; also in more recent usage applied to the modern form of tartan trousers worn by certain Scottish regiments, and to short tartan trunks worn under the kilt; trousers generally.Hebr. 1703 M. Martin Descr. W. Islands 206:
Many of the People wear Trowis, some of them very fine Woven, like Stockings of those made of Cloath; some are coloured, and others striped.
Sc. 1716 Chrons. Atholl and Tullibardine Families II. App. cvi.:
2 Highland Plaids — not made. 2 Pair Trues.
Sc. c.1730 E. Burt Letters (1815) II. 167:
Few besides gentlemen wear the trowze, that is, the breeches and stockings all of one piece, and drawn on together.
Sc. 1746 Acts 19 Geo. II. c.39. § 17:
No Man or Boy within that part of Great Britain called Scotland . . . shall on any Pretence whatsoever wear or put on the Clothes commonly called the Highland Clothes, the Plaid, Philebeg or little Kilt, Trowse, Shoulder Belts.
Edb. 1759 Edb. Chronicle (19 July):
A red and white stript vest, harn trouse without breeches.
Ayr. 1789 Burns Sherramuir iii.:
But had you seen the philabegs, And skyrin tartan trews, man.
Sc. 1796 Edb. Mag. (Aug.) 129:
In Athol, the trews did not fall into disuse till about the beginning of the present or end of the last century, and it was not totally discontinued till within the last thirty years.
Sc. 1818 Scott Rob Roy xxviii.:
[He] wore the trews, or close pantaloons, wove out of a sort of chequered stocking stuff.
Slk. 1835 Hogg Wars of Montrose I. 234:
The Marquess was dressed in tartan trews of the Mackintosh stripes.
Abd. 1851 W. Anderson Rhymes 164:
Plaidin' to make coats and trews.
Sc. 1948 G. F. Collie Highland Dress 15–16:
Boys and younger men often wear abbreviated under-trews of light-weight tartan. . . . The legs of the trews were each made from a single piece of tartan, with one seam only, running down the back; the cloth was cut on the bias so that threads in both directions ran diagonally to produce an elastic effect.
Sc. 1950 H. F. McClintock Irish & Highl. Dress 105:
The so-called trews worn in Highland Regiments to-day, however, are not trews at all, but merely tartan pantaloons or trousers.
 Sc. 1993 Herald 31 May 11:
How would you form a reasonable suspicion that the member for North Tayside was wearing pants under his kilt or that the member for Perth and Kinross was not wearing pants under his trews?
Gsw. 2000 Carl MacDougall Mozzarella shavings 76:
There were silver and crystal chandeliers, mirrors and oil paintings of Highland scenes lit by a strip of yellow light. The waiters wore white shirts and tartan trews.
Sc. 2002 Daily Record 15 Oct 14:
Not being a big fan of wearing the kilt, Tony decided tartan trews were the order of the day. The only problem was finding something to wear with them.

Hence trousing, combined breeches and stockings; ¶trewsman, one who wears trews, a Highlander.Sc. 1723 J. Macky Journey 194:
The Highland Gentlemen were mighty civil, dressed in their slash'd, short Waistcoats, a Trousing (which is, Breeches and Stockings of one piece of strip'd Stuff) with a Plaid for a Cloak.
Sc. 1819 Scott L. Montrose iv.:
A wheen canny trewsmen here that wadna let us want.

2. Trousers in gen. (Uls. 1953 Traynor).s.Sc. 1847 H. S. Riddell Poems 19:
When I gae the trews a wee bit touch, Out flew goud guineas frae ae pouch.
Mry. 1883 F. Sutherland Memories 57:
The soor-moo'd limmer wears the trews.
Arg. 1917 N. Munro Poetry (1931) 51:
His body unadorned by Highland raiment, Trammelled, for glorious hours, in Saxon trews.
em.Sc. 1992 Ian Rankin Strip Jack (1993) 19:
It is a truth universally acknowledged that some Members of Parliament have trouble keeping their trousers on. But Gregor Jack was not thought to be one of these. Indeed, he often eschewed troose altogether, opting for the kilt on election nights and at many a public function.
Sc. 1994 Herald 14 Apr 12:
...stay cool with this Nehru jacket and tight trews from Betty Barclay...
Sc. 1997 Scotsman 28 Mar 15:
In Colin Firth's case it has a slightly unorthodox twist, given his own personal Deus ex Machina was a pair of tight trews rather than a chance meeting in San Lorenzo.
Sc. 1999 Herald 8 Oct 32:
But Ms Dimmock's pre-Raphaelite tresses, tight trews, and upfront views on the uselessness of top-storey buttressing are not the only or best reasons to admire her.
Edb. 1999:
Trews to me are just breeks, not necessarily tartan.

[O.Sc. trewis, = 1., 1563, Gael. triubhas, id. The E.M.E. form trouse is from the corresponding Ir. trius, and its pl. developed into trousers. The garment is gen. accepted to be of Celtic orig. Cf. Lat. braccati, ‘breeched', of Celtic (and other non-Roman) warriors.]

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"Trews n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 18 Apr 2024 <>



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