Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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THRAWN, ppl.adj. Also thrawen, -in, thra(a)n (Uls. 1953 Traynor); Abd. forms thr(y)aavin, thrauven (Abd. 1922 Swatches o' Hamespun 63); I.Sc. forms trawn, traan, and Uls. forms trahan, trawn (Uls. 1953 Traynor). Compar. thrawner (Bnff. 1844 T. Anderson Poems 89). See P.L.D. §§ 141.2., 165. [θrɑ:n, θr:n; trɑ:n]

1. Twisted, crooked, distorted, misshapen, deformed (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.). Gen.Sc.; awry, turned in a wrong direction. Phr. thrawn-in-the-neck, fig., = 2. Combs. thrawn-leggit, -rumplet, having the legs or haunches crooked or deformed. Sc. 1705 J. Spreull Accompt Current 25:
The thrawn and wrinkled like Shells [of oysters] . . . wherein Pearls are commonly found.
Peb. 1793 R. Brown Comic Poems (1817) 129:
Sall, as thrawn's an S.
Sc. 1802 Scott Letters (Cent. Ed.) I. 161:
A much greater resemblance to thrawn haystacks than to anything else.
Abd. 1928 P. Buchan Ballads II. 134:
O Salton's valley lies low by the sea, He's bowed on the back, and thrawin on the knee.
Mry. 1852 A. Christie Mount. Strains 106:
Wi' great groff ropes o' thrawn wans.
Fif. 1875 A. Burgess Poute 29:
A lot of qurious thrawn-lyke tools.
Uls. 1879 W. G. Lyttle Readings 69:
As thrawin' as a dug's hin' leg.
Sc. 1887 Stevenson Thrawn Janet:
Janet M'Clour before his e'en, wi' her thrawn craig.
Ags. 1887 A. D. Willock Rosetty Ends 57:
When the coorse o' their true love gaed thrawn.
e.Lth. 1896 J. Lumsden Battles 14:
But this rare stable Patriarch, Ane-e'e'd, thrawn-rumplet, gaunt, and stark.
Kcb. 1897 Crockett Lochinvar xxxiii.:
Hair that wadna keep smooth, but was aye a' kinked and thrawn.
Rnf. 1898 J. M. Henderson Kartdale 128:
The deil-begotten, cantankerous, thrawn-in-the-neck, ungrateful pests o' society that would far raither gang the wrang road than the right ane.
m.Sc. 1920 O. Douglas Penny Plain x.:
The trees thrawn with winter and rough weather.
Ags. 1921 V. Jacob Bonnie Joann 5:
Thrawn-leggit carle wi' airms on hie And jist a hole for ilka ee.

2. Of the mouth or features: wry, twisted with pain, rage, vexation, etc., surly (Sc. 1808 Jam.). Gen.Sc. Hence thrawn-faced, -gabbit, -gabet, -gebbit (see Gab, n.1, 2.), -mouthed. Sc. 1721 J. Kelly Proverbs 53:
A toom purse makes a thrawn face.
Sc. 1721 Ramsay Poems (S.T.S.) I. 145:
Saebeins she be sic a thrawn-gabet Chuck.
Edb. 1773 Fergusson Poems (S.T.S.) II. 216:
Wi' whilk we drumly grow, and crabbit, Dowr, capernoited, thrawin gabbit.
Ayr. 1790 A. Tait Poems 238:
Thrawn mouth'd and vastly glee'd.
s.Sc. 1793 T. Scott Poems 365:
Thrawn-fac't politicians, now as thick I' mony spats as paddocks in a pool.
Sc. 1889 J. Grant Romance of War xli.:
Dinna girn at or be thrawn gebbit wi' young Inchkenneth.
Ags. 1893 Longman's Mag. (Feb.) 438:
Their faces sae thrawn like wi' girnin' an' greed.
Kcb. 1897 Crockett Lads' Love iii.:
Ye thrawn-faced, slack-twisted muckle haythen.
Lnk. 1904 I. F. Darhng Songs 109:
Settled in a sullen froon Maist thrawn and human.
Ayr. 1927 J. Carruthers A Man Beset i. i.:
God forgive me! I'm as thrawn-gabbit as you.

3. Of persons, animals or events: perverse, obstinate, contrary, cross-grained, intractable, not amenable, in a dour sullen mood (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Per., Fif., Lth., Ayr. 1915–26 Wilson; Uls. 1953 Traynor; Rxb. 1954 Hawick News (18 June) 7). Gen.Sc.; occas. transf. to mechanical contrivances, etc., which refuse to function properly; also of speech: cross, peevish. Also adv. Derivs. thrawnly, adv., in a sullen, peevish or reluctant manner, with a bad grace, thrawn(n)ess, obstinacy, perverseness (Gen.Sc.). Sc. 1718 Ramsay Poems (S.T.S.) I. 74:
Greedy Wives wi' girning thrawn.
Sc. 1722 W. Hamilton Wallace iii. i.:
Sore thrawn was he, and did with Anger burn.
Sc. 1816 Scott Black Dwarf xviii.:
He was thrawn and cankered in his converse.
Ayr. 1822 Galt Sir A. Wylie lxi.:
That thrawn gude-brother o' your's.
Rnf. 1835 D. Webster Rhymes 193:
Tho' his wife's just as thrawn as a wuddy.
Dmf. 1875 P. Ponder Kirkcumdoon 17:
Thrawn bodies, that wantit to mak a row i' the pairish.
Ork. 1880 Dennison Sketch-Bk. 102:
What black ill-end mak's thee sae trawn?
Sc. 1883 A. Stewart Nether Lochaber 328:
A perverseness of disposition and a thrawnness of temper.
Fif. 1883 W. D. Latto Bodkin Papers xxvi.:
Ye mauna say a thrawn word aboot the kail.
Ags. 1889 Barrie W. in Thrums xix.:
He cried it oot fell thrawn.
Kcd. 1895 M. M. Black Cargill 49:
He's terrible thrawn at the maister i' noo.
m.Sc. 1899 J. Buchan Grey Weather 250:
“What bird are ye?” he asked thrawnly.
e.Lth. 1905 J. Lumsden Croonings 259:
His tail, through some thrawn accident, Was twisted at the rump asklent.
Abd. 1909 G. Greig Main's Wooin' 53:
Ye're nae needin' to dee that unless it be for thrawnness.
Ags. 1918 J. Inglis The Laird 8:
Masel' I hae a gey gude watch, But it's thrawn an' ill tae gang.
Abd. 1921 T.S.D.C.:
A thraavin' feyre.
Edb. 1928 A. D. Mackie In Two Tongues 29:
My ain thrawn star has waled ye Tae turn my ploys a' ill.
Ork. 1930:
He cam wi me but vera ill an traanly.
Sh. 1952 J. Hunter Taen wi da Trow 95:
As trawn a roog o wickitness, As ever you did see.
Abd. 1963 J. C. Milne Poems 117:
Dour thrawn-like folk o' North-east stock.

Combs.: (1) (auld) thrawen days, a nickname for a child in a refractory mood (Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 446), “transferred perhaps to the child itself from the circumstance of his being occasionally actuated by a perverse humour for a whole day, whence it might be said ‘This is one o' his thrawn days' ” (Jam.); (2) ill-t(h)rawn, ill-natured, cross-grained, cantankerous (I. Sc., Cai., sm.Sc. 1972); (3) thrawn headed, perverse, contrary (Ags., Per., Rxb. 1972); (4) thrawn-muggent, id. (Ags. 1808 Jam.). See Ill-Muggent; (5) thrawn-natured, id. (3) Slg. 1795 G. Galloway Elegy W. Graham 11:
Fortune, that thrawn-headed slut, Has gaen ye your share o' misluck.
(5) Ayr. 1822 Galt Entail xii.:
He had his ain tribulation in a set of thrawn-natured tenants.

4. Of the weather: disagreeable, inclement (Mry., Bnff., Abd. 1972). Sc. 1897 L. Keith My Bonnie Lady 56:
Not in a thrawn wind like this. You'll bide at home.
Abd. 1923 R. Annand End of Fiammetta 31:
They bore him through the thrawn grey day.

[The strong pa.p. of Thraw, v., q.v. O.Sc. has thrawin, perverse, crabbed, 1450, twisted, wry, 1513, thrawinly, 1513, thrawin-mowit, with a twisted mouth, 1578.]

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"Thrawn ppl. adj.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 5 Aug 2021 <>



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