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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.

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, θrǫ: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.
em.Sc. 2000 James Robertson The Fanatic 2:
His leg was a thrawn limb, in more ways than one. Under the torture of the 'boots' it had been so mangled and crushed that it was not not much more than an encumbrance.
Edb. 2004:
Her mooth wis aw thrawn efter the stroke.

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. Darling 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.
em.Sc. 2000 James Robertson The Fanatic 143:
She moved around the room, a cloth in one hand, a stick in another. Not his stick, with the nasty thrawn face. That was away out with him. Her stick was a dry old branch, peeling bark, fit only for the fire.

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.
Edb. 1938 Fred Urquhart Time Will Knit (1988) 162:
It was pure thrawness on Stumpy's part, for he had no more reason to bless the royal family than any of us.
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.
wm.Sc. 1980 Anna Blair The Rowan on the Ridge 94:
His brother and heir, Lord Archibald, was known to the tenants as a thrawn opponent to the smuggling.
wm.Sc. 1985 Liz Lochhead Tartuffe 27:
De'il kens, but lovers are gey thrawn craturs ...
Sc. 1985 Scotsman (5 Sep):
With characteristic tenacity Mrs Thatcher refuses to regard it as beyond redemption, and is always a welcome visitor, even if native thrawnness seldom yields to her blandishments.
m.Sc. 1986 Colin Mackay The Song of the Forest 56:
" ... when I baptised you these five years syne, if I'd kent what a thrawn wee bugger you'd turn out to be, I'd have dropped you in the basin. ... "
Ags. 1988 Raymond Vettese The Richt Noise 49:
Ae thing I swear: I'll dicht frae sicht
this crookit thrawn coorse auld man,
he's no my faither.
m.Sc. 1991 Tom Scott in Tom Hubbard The New Makars 41:
Nou and syne this thrawn, unyieldan tyran
Keepan me spreadeaglet on the heather
Helpless, in a swither,
Slk. 1991 Harvey Holton in Tom Hubbard The New Makars 135:
Sae winks the wame-licht that blinks intae birth,
that thinks o thrawn links that oo maun mak wi mirth.
Fif. 1993:
That's pure thrawnness.
Ags. 1993 Mary McIntosh in Joy Hendry Chapman 74-5 113:
"Halt that an hap yersel up." He wis mislushious in his thrawness.
Abd. 1995 Flora Garry Collected Poems 19:
To watch ye is a richt divert,
Ma een as by a lodesteen draan,
Siccar ye grip me, an I'm thraan
To turn to my ain thochts, to pairt
Fae you.
wm.Sc. 1995 Robin Jenkins Leila 144:
Whether she was fortunate in having got a white man to marry her was a matter much debated. Sandilands was dour and thrawn (to use his own Scotch words), but he was big and handsome, with a good job and a house damned near as big and well-appointed as the Resident's.
m.Sc. 1996 John Murray Aspen 11:
Thrawn, Ugsome, Vengefie an Wicked
the meenister's cat wis an X certificate cat
Sc. 2000 Herald (5 Feb) 27:
This thrawnness has several root causes, not least the Gaelic language which defines the culture, and the great distances which separate the Highlanders and Islanders from Edinburgh and London powerbrokers.

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 16 Jun 2024 <>



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