[tawz, tahz]

noun, plural taws. Chiefly Scot.

a whip or leather thong used to drive a spinning top.
a leather whip having its tip divided into smaller strips, used to punish schoolchildren.

Origin of taws

1505–15; plural of obsolete taw < Old Norse taug rope; cognate with Old English tēag tie




a choice or fancy marble used as a shooter.
a game in which marbles are arranged in the center of a circle drawn or scratched on the ground, the object being to knock out as many as possible from the circle; ringer.
Also taw line. the line from which the players shoot.

verb (used without object)

to shoot a marble.

Origin of taw

First recorded in 1700–10; origin uncertain



verb (used with object)

to prepare or dress (some raw material) for use or further manipulation.
to transform the skin of an animal into white leather by the application of minerals, emulsions, etc.
Archaic. to flog; thrash.

Origin of taw

before 900; Middle English tawen, Old English tawian; cognate with Dutch touwen, Gothic taujan
Related formstaw·er, noun


[tahv, tawv, tahf, tawf]


Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for taws

Historical Examples of taws

  • From that moment he ruled them by his eye, the taws vanished.

    Spare Hours

    John Brown

  • He went back to "taws," and "lagged for goes," with the others.

    The Court of Boyville

    William Allen White

  • They will use the taws on baby hands, that cannot make a ‘k’ or a ‘z’ at first sight.


    Amelia Edith Huddleston Barr

  • If his mother had laid on the taws better, he would nae hae been sae skeigh.

    The Entail

    John Galt

  • One whipped daily and hourly with a hickory club with leather thongs attached at one end; this he called the "taws."

British Dictionary definitions for taws




the line from which the players shoot in marbles
back to taws Australian informal back to the beginning
a large marble used for shooting
a game of marbles

Word Origin for taw

C18: of unknown origin



verb (tr)

to convert (skins) into white leather by treatment with mineral salts, such as alum and salt, rather than by normal tanning processes
archaic, or dialect to flog; beat
Derived Formstawer, noun

Word Origin for taw

Old English tawian; compare Old High German zouwen to prepare, Gothic taujan to make
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for taws



"to prepare" (leather), from Old English tawian "to do, make," from Proto-Germanic *tawojan (cf. Old Frisian tawa, Old Saxon toian, Middle Dutch tauwen, Dutch touwen, Old High German zouwen "to prepare," Old High German zawen "to succeed," Gothic taujan "to make, prepare"), probably related to the root of Old English tol "tool" (see tool).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper