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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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Thrissil(l, Thirsill, Thissill, n. Also: thrissile, thryssil(l, thrissel(l, thrisle, thristill, -ell, thristle, thresill, thrussill, thirsyll, -sel, -scell, -sall, thyrsill, thirstle, thissel(l, thistel, thistle. [ME and e.m.E. thystle (a1327), þistel (Trevisa), thistel, thristelle (both c1400), thistle (1535), OE þistil, -el.]

1. The thistle. Also coll. Also in fig. context and proverb. c1500-c1512 Dunb. (OUP) 144/129.
Upone the awfull thrissill scho beheld And saw him kepit with a busche of speiris
1562-3 Winȝet II 59/20.
God forbid that the rose plantis of the Catholik sense be turnit in thirsillis and thornis!
a1570-86 Balnaves in Maitl. F. 358/80.
Adew the thirsill deir
1577 Glasgow B. Rec. I 58.
That na maner of persoun be fund in wther menis stuff powand thirsillis or ony wther wedis but thair leif
1582 Edinb. D. Guild Acc. 149.
For weding the thrissillis, houmloikis, neittillis and vtheir vnprofitable weidis
1584 Balnaves Conf. Faith 132.
May yee gather grapes of thornes, or figges of thrisles?
a1586 Lindsay MS 35b (see Treffle n.).
1597 Melvill 431.
Thow sall feill thy judgment, scharpe as thirsall, Upon thy bak
1581-1623 James VI Poems I 129/140.
[The Earth] … for the corne that ue do sou deceitfull doth us paye Uith thristillis [1591 thirstles] burning corne & uith the uapairous dornell ay
1688 Peebles B. Rec. II 123.
It sall be lesum to any of the neighbours within the burgh that … can prove that their neighbours have been upon their grass, cornes, or drawing thristles out of utheris cornes without thair consent, to exact from them fourtein shilling Scots
coll. c1552 Lynd. Mon. 1086.
Curste and baren the erth salbe, … But laubour, it sall beir no corne, Bot thirsyll, nettyll, breir, and thorne
1566–7 Reg. Privy S. V ii 328/1.
The said schaw is … becumin … thik with breiris, thissill, rammald, [etc.]
proverb. 1598 James VI Basil. Doron 141/10.
The asse … uill be faine of thristillis [1599 thissels]
a1628 Carmichael Prov. No. 126.
A gangand fute is ay gettand and it were a thrissel
a1628 Carmichael Prov. No. 987.
I salbe a thrissell in your way and a thorne in your gaite
a1628 Carmichael Prov. No. 1359.
Sic lips sic lettouse, quo the kw eating thrissils

b. Used of the plants (1) Land Caltrops (tribulus terrestris) and (2) Eryngo or Sea Holly (eryngium maritimum).(1) 1597 Skene Verb. S. s.v. Tribvla.
Like as tribulus is called ane thrissill
(2) a1606 Dioscoridis Annot. 144b.
[Eryngium,] The pykit thistel, Scotia concessa
1500-1699 Herbarius Latinus Annot. lxxvi (Bot.).
Iringus, fre thissell

2. As the heraldic emblem of Scotland, esp. in embroidery or metalwork, or engraved on coins; a representation or model of a thistle. Also personified or fig.(a) 1488 Treas. Acc. I 85.
A couering … browdin with thrissillis and a vnicorne
1507 Treas. Acc. III 261.
Thre thrissilles of coppir gilt
1508 Treas. Acc. IV 127.
To the Franch goldsmyth that wrocht the thrissil with ane diamand, v unicornis
1538 Treas. Acc. VII 33.
For xxxiiij thrissillis of gold to put apoun the kingis bonat, … for the fassoun of ilk pece of the saidis thrissillis, … for xx thrissillis of gold to ane goune of the kingis grace
1538 Treas. Acc. VII 100.
For the making and furnysing of ane haill harnessing, bukkillis, thrissillis, slippennis … till ane of the kingis grete hors, deliverit to Johnne Mosmanne to gilt
1539–40 Acts Sederunt i 39.
And that siclik be gravit in the greit signet with the clos croune and the kingis grace ordour of the mollettis and thrissellis about the schelde [etc.]
1562 Edinb. B. Rec. III 137.
The idole Sanct Geyll to be cuttit furth of the townys standert and the thrissill put in place thairof
1570–1 Reg. Privy S. VI 202/2.
The silver money underwrittin of the valour of ane mark and ane half mark having on the ane syde the kingis majesteis armes and croun abone the samin … and on the uthir syde ane thrissill crownit
1591 Acts III 526/1.
1593 Acts IV 48/2.
Ane losane with ane thrissill on euery nuke in forme of a croce
1612–23 Mill Mediæv. Plays 207 (see also Order n. 6 b).
[To the goldsmith] for making the scepter St. Andro and St. George with the ordour of the thrissell
1628–9 Mill Mediæv. Plays 210.
For twa reveres for the mont at the West Port twa thrissellis for the Nether Bow staige [etc.]
1630 Glasgow B. Rec. I 374.
Threttie pund deburset … to Vallentyne Ginking for gilting the cok and als the thrissell, crowne, and scheptour abone the kingis armes
1640 Cuningham Journal 13.
The thrissel crouwned signifyeth the kingdome of Scotland; … the thrissel decoring the sword signifyeth that the honour of a king standeth in his subjects
1641 Acts V (1817) 507/1.
That the pewderer or funder of tin sall put the mark of the thrissell … and his awne name vpon euerie peice of work
(b) 1539–40 Treas. Acc. VII 295.
For xviij score of pece of lyoun hedis, boukillis, thresillis, and fleur de lices of bras to the samin harnesingis of crammessye velvet
(c) 1578 Reg. Privy C. III 17.
That the lauchfull and trew cunyie may be markit with a crownit thrussill
1579 Treas. Acc. XIII 294.
Be ane warrand of the kingis majesteis under the privie seill past throw the irnis of his hienes cunȝehous with the stamp of the thrussill
(d) 1533–4 Treas. Acc. VI 188.
To ane tynclare for making of certane buklis, thyrsillis and pendes to be put upoun the foirsaid harnessing
1565 Reg. Privy C. I 413.
Ane penny of silver callit the Marie ryall … ane thirsill on ilk syde with this circumscriptioun [etc.]
(e) 1570-3 Bann. Trans. 53.
A prettie hart horne … in the neather part … a throne and a gentlewoman sitting in the same … vnder hir feit … a rose, environed with a thissell
c1575 Balfour Pract. 656.
The summoundis to be under the signet of office of the said commissariat; in the quhilk sall be graven ane crownit thissel, with M. R.
1657 Balfour Ann. IV 403.
One the rewersse, a thissell, floured full in 3 grate stemes
(f) 1630 Hist. Fam. Seton 792.
He caused carve, in fine stone, … a crown, supported by two roses and the thristell
(g) 1694 Arch. Scot. I 180.
[The embroiderer's essay] an embroidered thistle, and the motto nemo me impune lacesset
personified (fig.) c1500-c1512 Dunb. (OUP) 97/22.
The mersy of that sweit meik rose Suld soft ȝow thirsill I suppois
1537 Lynd. Depl. Magd. 198.
Thou [sc. Death] hes slane the heuinly flour of France Quhilk impit was in to the thrissill kene
1548 Cal. Sc. P. I 142.
What mysery … haith … Great Bryttaine suffred by devision of our most renowned howses of two kinges … indwellers of the same, intitled the Rose and the Thirstle, otherwyse the liberd and the lyon
a1568 Scott i 3.
Welcum oure lyone with the floure-delyce! Welcum oure thrissill with the Lorane grene!
1604-31 Craig i 24.
The thirsel [Fugitive Poetry thirsell] now defends & guards the red rose & the white
1640 Cuningham Journal 19.
When only thrissels [sc. Scotland's] king our faythful steward born S. Andrews cros enjoy'd, we joy'd by trueths plantation

b. As the name of a boat, or title of a book.For an explanation of Thrissels Banner in (2) below, see Cuningham Journal 11-25.(1) 1628 Reg. Great S. 412/2.
Duarum navium suarum lie Unicorne et lie Thistle
(2) 1640 Cuningham Journal 11.
I have enterprysed and … finished and perfyted my first fruit, intitulate Thrissels Banner
1647 Edinb. Test. LXIII 66.
Item the Thrissells Baner estimatt to xii s.

c. attrib.Thrissill croun, nobill, gold coins of varying values (see quots.) with a thistle engraved on the reverse.(1) 1589 Cunȝiehous Acc. 19b.
The weycht of gold … in thrissell nobillis of xxiij carrettis sewine grainis tweinttie stane weycht
1590–1 Reg. Privy C. IV 574.
[200 oz. weight of] utter fyne gold [shall be coined] in the thrissill noblis
1591–2 Reg. Privy C. IV 715.
Thistle noble of gold at £7 6 s. 8 d.; old rose noble at £6 13 s. 4 d.; angel noble at £4 8 s. … lion noble, lately coined for £3 15 s. now at £4
1591 Acts III 527/1.
That nane … refuis to ressaue the saidis new … thryssil nobillis in … payment vnder the pane of tressoun
1598 Acts IV 175/2.
His maiesties thirscell noble to geve heirefter vij li. xvj s.
(2) 1611 Reg. Privy C. IX 289.
The peece of gold callit the thrissill crowne or xlviii s. peece at lii s. vj d.
1625 Cochran-Patrick Coinage II 9.
Of the thrisle crowne called the four merk peece
(3) 1600 Acts IV 257/2.
The ȝeir of God to be put in the thrissell syde of the siluer
(4) 1633 M. Works Acc. (ed.) II 327.
Thrie thrisle leives [£3]

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"Thrissil n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 27 Feb 2024 <>



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