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A Dictionary of the Older Scottish Tongue (up to 1700)

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First published 2001 (DOST Vol. X).
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Thred(e, Threid, n. Also: threyd, threed(e, thread, thrade, thrid(e, treid. [ME and e.m.E. þread (c1200), þraed, þred (both Layamon), threde (Chaucer), þreed, threed (Wyclif), thred (c1400), thrid (1582), thread (1650), OE þræd, ON þraðr.]

1. a. coll. Thread, as spun for use in sewing, making fabric, etc. b. As a non-count noun, without the indef. art.: The fibre from which a thread may be spun, wool, cotton, flax, silk, etc.See also Birge n. 2, Birges n., Pakking vbl. n. 3 a, Pak-thred n., Perling n. d, Saill n.1 5 and Skenȝe n.For many further examples, see Treas. Acc. Indexes.(a) 14.. Acts I 305/2.
Of a hundreth pund of threde to mak kellis a half peny … of a hundreth pund of lynyn threde a half peny
1506–7 Treas. Acc. III 363.
1531 Treas. Acc. V 425.
For half ane pund blak threde ij s. ix d. … for ane quarter pund blew threde xj d. … for ane quarter pund grene threde xvij d.
1637 Edinb. Test. LVIII 216b.
Ane pairlit cheinȝie that is thred with thrie gang of pearle togidder
(b) ?1438 Alex. ii 3883.
Ȝe are sle, dame … And sewis it weill … But threid or nedill all subtelly
14.. Acts I 336/2.
Off the chalance of sowtaris … that thai sow witht fals and rottin threid throu the quhilk the schone ar tynt or thai be half worn
a1500 Henr. Fab. 1830.
The lynt ryipit … His wyfe it span, and twynit it in to threid, Off quhilk the fowlar nettis maid in deid
1496 Treas. Acc. I 284.
A pund of pyk for the pailȝoune threid
1496 Treas. Acc. I 288.
Giffin for haw threid to the kingis pailȝounis, viij d.
1501 Treas. Acc. II 66.
For xij beltis of quhit threid for the kirk iiij s.
1507 Treas. Acc. III 395.
Threid for fire ballis
1507 Treas. Acc. IV 78.
j pund threid for cors bowis,ix s.
1507 Treas. Acc. IV 79.
Payit to the broudstar for half ane hank gold threid for tenting and gret papir for the kingis doublat
1507–8 Treas. Acc. IV 102.
For threid to mak the graith to fyre gunnis with, vj s.
1513 Doug. iv ix 91.
Hir ta fute bayr, and the bandis of threyd Nocht festynnyt bot hung by hyr lowys weyd
1513 Treas. Acc. IV 477. 1539 Treas. Acc. VII 218.
For ane skenȝe of threid to be ane lyne to the masone
1544 Treas. Acc. VIII 319.
For threid, talloun and ledder boucht to the tow of the well withtin the castell of Edinburght
1546 Treas. Acc. IX 24.
For threid to sew thir clathis xij d.
1589 Edinb. Test. XXI 89.
Thrie vnce … of hair threid price of the vnce xxx d.
1596 Dalr. I 94/4. 1603 Edinb. B. Rec. V 325.
The … passage to be keippet … unstoppet or hynderit be the saids baxters and sellares of threid
1690 Newport Glasgow Customs 10.
Eighty pound of Lithgow threid
(c) a1500 Sir Eger 374.
The tents that in my wounds yeed, Trust ye well they were no threed … Of silk they were both good and fine
a1646 Wedderburn Voc. (1709) 15.
Cheluma, the shoe makers threed
a1652 Dickson Psalms III 252.
It is as easie for God to deliver his people out of their enemies hands … as to break a net made of threed or yarn, wherein birds are taken
1686 Old Kirk Chron. 157.
[Little Barbara Boyd was … apprenticed to a lace-maker in Dalkeith] getting bobbeens and threed [to start with]
(d) 1533 Edinb. Hammermen 138b.
For pak thrid j d.
(e) 1559 Reg. Episc. Aberd. I xc.
5 belts of blue and white birget [? erron. for birges] thread
1689 Foulis Acc. Bk. 115.
For 1 unce round whyt thread from Martin Currie, 4 s. 6 d.
(f) 1566 Hay Fleming Q. Mary 500.
Of treid tua pund weicht

c. attrib. and comb.attrib. 1538 Treas. Acc. VII 13.
Gevin for twa dowsoun of silk harnes pointis and ane dowsoun of threid pointis to the said harnes
1583 Edinb. Test. XII 286.
xij gros of threid buttones
1613 Edinb. Test. XLVII 359b.
Tuentie foure elnes counterfute threid pasmentis for gluifheids
1627 Edinb. Test. LIV 49.
Threid plusche at xxx s. the elne
1632 Tailor's Acc. Bk. B 5.
Threid & threid buittins
1691 Foulis Acc. Bk. 134.
For 2 pair threid stockins to myselfe
comb. 1532 Mill Mediæv. Plays 248.
The baxtaris the threid craft … the wobstaris & walkaris
1664 Edinb. B. Rec. IX 353.
Caleb Big, threidmaker of all sorts
1684 Proclamation anent Persons Denounced Fugitives for Rebellion 1679 24.
John Lillie threed-maker in Borrowstounness
1685 Edinb. Test. Index II 364.
George Wilson, thread-maker

2. An individual string of spun fibres twisted together, a thread, also used to imply a fragile connection. Also in fig. context, and fig. Cf. also Wreisting threde n. a1500 Henr. Fab. 2856.
Ga tak ane doubill twynit threid And bind thy leg to myne with knottis fast
a1500 Henr. Orph. 283.
Before his face ane apill hang also, Fast at his mouth, apon a tolter threde
a1500 Bk. Chess 1917.
A nakit swerd abone his hed thair hang Bot with a threid
c1500-c1512 Dunb. G. Targe 62 (M).
Thair bricht hair hang … In tressis cleir wouppit with goldin threidis
1533 Boece 499b.
Ane threde wrocht with pik & burntstane
1551 Hamilton Cat. 201.
The first feir bringis in the secund, evin as the nedil bringis in the threid throw ane clayth
a1605 Montg. Flyt. 431 (T).
His faith he forsaikis in the feynd to confyde Be vertew of thir wordis & of this raw ȝarne And thryse thre and threttie knottis on ane blew threed
1590 Dalyell Darker Superst. 377.
Sum threidis of wirseit of divers collouris, hairis and naillis of menis fingeris
1590–1 Crim. Trials I ii 238.
[He] baid lay ane threid langis the mwre, and commandit to saw the peces of glas langis the mwre, swa that quhatsumeuir come owre fyrst, sould perisch suddandle
1595 Duncan App. Etym.
Filum, a threede
1596 Dalr. I 126/34.
That … the prudencie, and jugement of secular persouns mycht … as it war with a threid, directe the ald and ancient simplicitie
1597 Misc. Spald. C. I 147.
Be taking of ane womanis sleiff, and putting ane threid thair about, quhilk is ane of the speciall reittis and seremoneis of thy wichecraft
1600-1610 Melvill 117.
When the Lord haid stryped him naked and bear of all these things warldlie, and of a cable maid a twynde thride to go in at the narow ei of that neidle
a1605 Montg. Misc. P. xxii 38.
A threed Hir leilest lover for to leed Out of the laberinth of love
1611-57 Mure Dido & Æneas i 6.
Path'd wayes I trace, as Theseus in his neid, Conducted by a loyall virgin's threid
1624 Misc. Abbotsf. C. 146.
A lass … haueing a luik thrid in hir hand, ȝe soght the said thrid, and the lass … tuik sick ane franisie [which] … continwit quhill ȝe gatt the thrid
1630 Justiciary Cases I 145.
Thomas Home … quha is now deid be hir laying of ane inchantit threid befoir his dur
1640 Intentions Army Kingdom Scotland 18.
We shal not take from our friends and brethren, from a threed even to a shooe latchet
1662 Crim. Trials III 605.
We took a threid of each cullor of yairne that wes in the … litt-fatt … and did put the threidis in the fatt … and thairby took the heall strenth of the fatt away
1676 Welsh Gospel Summonds 21.
We may not leave you as a knotless threed
1684 Symson Descr. Galloway 97.
They twine twentie, or thirtie threeds together, according to the greatness of the cords they design to make
1691 Kirk Secr. Commonw. (1964) 424.
The same knot is oft cast on a threed by sportful people when [the] a party is a marrying, and befor the minister, which ty's up the man from all benevolence to his bride, till they be loosed
fig. 1600-1610 Melvill 529.
Thais commissionaris being exalted so high as to … sitt with his majestie in counsell … they were the very neidle to draw in the episcopall threid
1746 J. Row Sermon 3.
We had once a bonny Kirk, but after they got us fast, they made the silken threed a cable-tow

b. The warp and weft threads in a piece of cloth. Also coll. 1624 Conv. Burghs III 157.
The magistrats of ilk burgh … diligentlie to visit thair mercattis, and such yairne … that does not contein the iust number of threids in euerie cutt thairof … ordanis the saids magistrattis to confiscatt the samin
coll. 1701 New Mills Manuf. 268.
The cloaths are not reased weell enugh in the dabbing board, which makes the threed appear in the cloaths

c. With preceding numeral, as a measure of fineness, quality or strength (chiefly, of taffeta). Also uninfl. pl.Tafeteis of the foure threidis, … a kind of taffety of medium quality, inferior to taffety ‘of the cord’; taffety of the six threads was superior to them both' (Accounts of the Lord High Treasurer of Scotland XI (1916) Glossary, s.v. Tafeteis). 1538 Treas. Acc. VII 30.
For iij elnis ½ of blak taffateis of four threidis to lyne double the said doublat
1551 Treas. Acc. X 30.
vj quarteris taffiteis of the four threiddis to lyne and nerft his hois
1554–5 Edinb. Old Acc. I 138.
Ane quarter of black taffateis and ane quarter of reid taffateis, baith of the foure threds
1561 Treas. Acc. XI 94.
For twa elnis and ane half of blak tafiteis of the vj threidis … the elne xxx s.
1616 M. Works Acc. (ed.) II 15.
For lxiiii faddome of grit quhyt towis being tuelf threid towis to the crane
1696 Edinb. Test. LXXX 159b.
Three peace of dyed fingring courtains, … with ij threid frenies
uninfl. pl. 1539 Treas. Acc. VII 181.
Deliverit to him to draw the said hois witht, xiiij elnis of ȝallow taffiteis of twa thred
1565 Treas. Acc. XI 431.
xiij elnis of taffeteis of the foure threid, the elne xx s.

d. Thrumis and thredis, scraps and waste fragments of thread or woven material. 1597 Misc. Spald. C. I 149.
Thow haid in thy purs meir witchecraft … to witt, all sort of thrwmis and threidis cutit, of all cullouris, with ane peice cruickit weir
1681 Colvil Whig's Suppl. (1681) Sig. A 2b.
I am … wronged … by transcribers who, stealing copies of my lines, have transmitted them every where, like pictures on the wrong side of arras hangings, spoiled with thrumbs and threads

e. Wowin upon the thrade, ? 1595–6 Sc. Hist. Rev. X (1912-13) 302.
In the wardrup ane bordclayth for the hie buird wowin upone the thrade … thrie auld buird clayths for chalmeris wowin upoune the thrade

f. As the type of something insignificant and valueless. 1560 Rolland Seven S. 8004.
In lufis labour quhen euer that ȝe inlaik, All thing bygane scho countis not worth ane threid

g. fig. A fragile remnant, vestige. 1634 Sel. Biog. I 283.
I have some threed of hope. Lord strengthen it

3. A fillet, or narrow horizontal band, in heraldry. 1661 Work Goes Bonnely On 4.
That lyon, though rampant, is willing to barrier himself within two threads (called by the French fillets) of a double tressure because they are enriched with flower de luces

4. fig. The course of a person's life, represented in classical mythology as a thread spun and eventually cut by the Fates. a1500 Henr. Fab. 2951.
Quhill cruell deith cum brek of lyfe the threid
c1550 Rolland Ct. Venus ii 606.
Bot quhen sic folk abone thair stait transcend Thir sisteris thre [sc. the Fates] … Did cut the threid and gart them sone discend
c1552 Lynd. Mon. 373.
And iournelly thay do proceid Tyll Atrops cute the fatell threid
1585 James VI Ess. 49.
O what a cruel rage To cut her off before her threid did weave
1596 Dalr. I 255/27.
Deith cuttit the threid of his lyfe
1596 Dalr. II 474/13.
Heir this historie endis, as the thride brokne
1600-1610 Melvill 145.
[He] cutted the thrid of his maist stedable … lyff to the Kirk of Scotland
1611-57 Mure Dido & Æneas iii 384.
End thow my cares, and cut my threed of life!
1637 Rutherford Lett. (1830) 199.
Many ells and inches of the short thread of your life are by-hand since I saw you

5. fig. The main narrative course or gist (of a story). a1658 Durham Comm. Rev. 519.
The threed and series of the story is deduced in a little view from Christs dayes to the end of the world
?c1675 J. Gordon Hist. I 3.
Thus then, with God's help, I enter the threed of the following relation
a1658 Durham Clavis Cantici 29.
As one piece of the allegory is to be resolved, so by proportion must all the rest, there being one threed and scope

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"Thred n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 20 May 2024 <>



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