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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 but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

TOUSIE, adj., v. Also tousy, ¶toussie, touzie, -y, toosi(e), -ey, toozie, -y, tows(e)y, -ie, towowzie, -y. [′tuzi; also from Eng. ′tʌuzi]

I. adj. 1. Esp. of the hair: dishevelled, shaggy, unkempt, rough, tangled (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Uls. 1953 Traynor). Gen.Sc. Also used subst. as a pet-name for a child with curly unruly hair.Ayr. 1786 Burns Twa Dogs 33–4:
His breast was white, his towzie back Weel clad wi' coat o' glossy black.
Rnf. 1805 G. McIndoe Poems 21:
Tho' Andrew he's a tousy blade His head, tho' seldom it be red.
Slk. 1822 Hogg Siege Rxb. (1874) 672:
The towzy Turnbulls, and the red-wudd Ridderfords.
Ayr. 1823 Galt Spaewife I. viii.:
A bald head and a toosie grey beard.
Fif. 1841 C. Gray Lays 215:
His hair in towzie ringlets tossed.
Kcd. 1851 W. Jamie Stray Effusions 22:
Towsy goats amang the rocks.
e.Lth. 1892 J. Lumsden Sheep Head 132:
An ancient carle before me rose, Whase features — tousie heid, an' nose.
Sh. 1906 T. P. Ollason Spindrift 61:
Scratching their towsie heads in mute distraction.
em.Sc. 1925 Scots Mag. (Feb.) 355:
On whinny braes the towzie kye Bide dourly till the storm blaws by.
Sc. 1930 Scotsman (26 Feb.) 10:
Ye mauna gan there, ma wee bit toussie.
m.Sc. 1986 Colin Mackay The Song of the Forest 225:
And so, in a strange, yet real, way, she had come to love the lonely lumbering giant from the forest, much as in another age or in another country, a ten year old girl with freckles and a tousy wee head might give her love to a pony, a cat, or an elephant, and think all the world was in the loving of it.

Combs.: tousie-faced, hairy-faced; tousie-heidit; tousie-like, -looking; tousie-pousie, shaggy, of rough texture; tousie-tailed.Sc. 1829 R. Chambers Sc. Songs I. 147:
Reamin' ower wi' sowens, aside an auld pirn-wheel, To lay the tousie-pousie hair o' the plaidin'.
Dmb. 1844 W. Cross Disruption xiv.:
If Jean was to see me the least toozie-like.
Edb. 1876 J. Smith Archie and Bess 12:
What did ye come here for, ye toozy-lookin' drab?
em.Sc. 1881 A. Wardrop Poems 13:
A tousie-tailed collie.
Ayr. 1883 W. Aitken Lays of Line 57:
Rab Broon was a porter, a tousy-faced tyke.
Sc. 1927 W. P. McKenzie Bits o' Verse 7:
A lassie towsie-heided, A laddie wi' bare feet.

2. Untidy, in a disorderly state (Sh., Cai., em.Sc.(a), wm. and sm. Sc. 1972); of clothes: ragged, tattered. Adv. tousily, in a muddle, in a confused bewildered condition.Ayr. 1818 J. Kennedy Poems 42:
Clipping a the toozy bits Aff drunken Davie's sark.
Rnf. 1870 J. Nicholson Idylls 133:
Hersel' and her hoose alike toozie.
Hdg. 1885 S. Mucklebackit Rhymes 201:
Tousily awaking from a reverie.
Sc. 1887 Trans. Highl. Soc. 202:
Neatly trimmed fences look well on a farm, yet they would be better liked by the cows if left a trifle “tousy.”
Dmf. 1912 J. L. Waugh Robbie Doo 11:
I played aboot its aye-open door and its toosie gable end.
Arg. 1914 N. Munro New Road xvii.:
It [fishing-line]'s gey and tousy — scarce an ell of it unfankled.
Ork. 1920 J. Firth Reminisc. 112:
A weel set “back” upo' the floor. A lum wi' simmons toosi.

3. Rough, rollicking, boisterous, obstreperous, rowdy, turbulent, violent (Ayr., Rxb. 1972). Also adv.Gsw. 1873 A. G. Murdoch Lilts 57:
Tell, him, when in the touzie key, A nicht wi' him I wadna gie.
Dmb. 1883 D. Macleod Poet. Lennox (1889) 208:
We're sometimes gey touzy on Saturday nicht.
Lnk. 1890 J. Coghill Poems 98:
Some o' ye whiles, when ye get boosie, Aft let your tongues wag geyan touzie.
Sc. 1891 R. Ford Thistledown 28:
Ye'll see the toosiest fecht that was ever fochen.
Dmf. 1914 J. L. Waugh Cracks wi R. Doo 63:
A towsey, rough-and-ready phase o' life.
Bnff. 1925 G. B. Cumming A'anside Lilts 71:
The times then were touzie to live in, Whan a good hazel was your frien'.
Rxb. 1925 E. C. Smith Mang Howes 9:
Steepit i the lore o the byegane days; a bit that saw weild toozy dae-eens.

4. Of the weather: rough, wild, stormy.Ayr. 1897 H. Ochiltree Out of Shroud xxiv.:
I was oot gey late ae nicht — a touzie nicht it was.
s.Sc. 1938 Border Mag. (Oct.) 150:
As wundy an' tousy a nicht as ever was.

5. Abundant, plentiful, well-supplied, in profusion. For the semantic development cf. Ruch, adj., 3.Ayr. 1895 H. Ochiltree Redburn ix.:
It's no a very great place for yits or barley, but a gye tousie place for gress.

Comb. tousie tea, a tea meal with extras, a high or knife-and-fork tea, tea accompanied by a cooked dish (em.Sc.(a), wm.Sc., Kcb., Rxb. 1972).Sc. 1835 Gsw. Journal (31 Oct.) 44:
Mrs Stewart had laid what she styled “a touzie tea.”
Rnf. 1868 Laird of Logan App. 501:
An afternoon repast, a substantial meal, cheese and butcher-meat being added to the usual accompaniments of tea. The Paisley folk call this “A tousie tea.”
Gall. 1904 Crockett Raiderland 54:
A “tousy tea” — that is, one with trimmings.
Rxb. 1907 Border Mag. (Jan.) 16:
Promptly hurrying up a touzy tea.
wm.Sc. 1934 T. Smellie Tea-Pairty 12:
Next to a touzie tea there's naething like maesic tae soothe a savage beast.

II. v. Only in pa.p. touzied, disordered, dishevelled (Cai. 1972).Fif. 1882 Session Papers. Wilson v. Wilson (10 Feb.) 2:
The defender came from the parlour, where the co-defender was, having her hair all “touzied.”

[Deriv. of Touse, q.v. O.Sc. towsy, c.1500.]

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"Tousie adj., v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 30 Jan 2023 <>



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