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See also: Thew



Etymology 1[edit]

From Middle English theu, thew (way of behaving towards others, bearing, manners; habit, practice; good manners, courtesy; characteristic act; characteristic, trait; custom, tradition; established rule, ordinance; injunction; moral character; (in the plural) set of moral principles, morals; moral quality, virtue or vice; might, power, strength) [and other forms] (often in the plural form theus, thewes),[1] from Old English þēaw (general practice of a community, custom, usage; mode of conduct, behaviour, manner; (in the plural) customs, virtue) [and other forms],[2] from Proto-West Germanic *þauw, from Proto-Germanic *þawwaz (custom; habit); further etymology uncertain, tentatively identified by the Etymologisches Wörterbuch des Althochdeutschen (Etymological Dictionary of Old High German) as a reflex of an s-less variant of Proto-Indo-European *(s)tāu-, *(s)te- (to stand; to place), from *steh₂- (to stand (up)).[3]


thew (plural thews)

  1. (archaic, chiefly in the plural, also figuratively)
    1. An attractive physical attribute; also, physical, mental, or moral strength or vigour.
    2. An aspect of the body which indicates physical strength; hence, muscle and/or sinew; muscular development.
  2. (obsolete, chiefly in the plural)
    1. A way of behaving; hence, a characteristic, a trait.
    2. (specifically) A good characteristic or habit; a virtue.
      • [1575, George Gascoigne, Certayne Notes of Instruction. Concerning the Making of Verse or Ryme in English, []; reprinted in Edward Arber, editor, 1. Certayne Notes of Instruction in English Verse. 1575. [] (English Reprints; vol. 3, no. 11), large paper edition, London: J. & W. Rider, 1869 October 1, →OCLC, paragraph 12, page 37:
        This poeticall licence is a ſhrewde fellow, and couereth many faults in a verſe, [] and to conclude it turkeneth all things at pleaſure, for example, ydone for done, adowne for downe, orecome for ouercome, tane for taken, power for powre, heauen for heavn, thewes for good partes or good qualities, and a numbre of whiche were but tedious and needleſſe to rehearſe, ſince your owne iudgement and readyng will ſoone make you eſpie ſuch aduantages.]
Derived terms[edit]

Etymology 2[edit]

From Middle English theuen, thewe (to instruct in morals or values; to teach, train) [and other forms],[4] from theu, thew (noun) (see etymology 1) + -en (suffix forming the infinitives of verbs).[5][6]


thew (third-person singular simple present thews, present participle thewing, simple past and past participle thewed)

  1. (transitive, obsolete) To instruct (someone) in morals or values; also (more generally) to chastise or discipline (someone); to teach or train (someone).
Derived terms[edit]


  1. ^ theu, n.(1)”, in MED Online, Ann Arbor, Mich.: University of Michigan, 2007.
  2. ^ thew, n.1”, in OED Online Paid subscription required, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, September 2021; thew, n.”, in Lexico,; Oxford University Press, 2019–2022.
  3. ^ Lloyd, Albert L., Lühr, Rosemarie (1998) Etymologisches Wörterbuch des Althochdeutschen (in German), volumes II: bî – ezzo, Göttingen/Zürich: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, →ISBN, page 741
  4. ^ theuen, v.(1)”, in MED Online, Ann Arbor, Mich.: University of Michigan, 2007.
  5. ^ -en, suf.(3)”, in MED Online, Ann Arbor, Mich.: University of Michigan, 2007.
  6. ^ Compare † thew, v.”, in OED Online Paid subscription required, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, June 2021.

Further reading[edit]


Middle English[edit]


thew (plural thewes)

  1. aspect, trait, thew
    • c. 1374–1385 (date written)​, Geffray Chaucer [i.e., Geoffrey Chaucer], “The House of Fame. The Thyrde Boke.”, in [William Thynne], editor, The Workes of Geffray Chaucer Newlye Printed, [], [London: [] Richard Grafton for] Iohn Reynes [], published 1542, →OCLC, folio cccxiiii, verso, column 1:
      To tel al the tale a ryght / We ben ſhrewes euery wyght / And haue delyte in wickedneſſe / As good folke haue in goodneſſe / And ioye to be knowen ſhrewes / And ful of vyce and wicked thewes
      To tell all the tale aright / We are shrews, every person / And have dealt in wickedness / As good folk have in goodness / And joy to be known as shrews / And full of vice and wicked traits



From Proto-Northern Jê *tep (fish) < Proto-Cerrado *tep (fish).


IPA(key): [ˈʈʰɛp̚]



  1. Form of thewe (utterance-medial variant)





  1. Aspirate mutation of tew.


Welsh mutation
radical soft nasal aspirate
tew dew nhew thew
Note: Some of these forms may be hypothetical. Not every possible mutated form of every word actually occurs.