Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
- n. A sieve; a searce; a bolter; a strainer. See the quotation from “Notes and Queries.” According to a common statement, the proverbial saying “He'll never set the Thames on fire” (that is, he'll never make any figure in the world) contains this word in a corrupt form. “The temse was a corn-sieve which was worked in former times over the receiver of the sifted flour. A hard-working, active man would not unfrequently ply the temse so quickly as to set fire to the wooden hoop at the bottom.” (Brewer.) No evidence for this statement appears. The word Thames was in Middle English Temse, etc., Anglo-Saxon Temese.
- To sift.
- n. UK, dialect, obsolete A sieve.
GNU Webster's 1913
- n. Prov. Eng. A sieve.
- French tamis, or Dutch tems. Compare tamine. (Wiktionary)
“They also made ‘tiffany cakes’ of wheaten flour, which was separated from the bran by being worked through a hair-sieve tiffany, or temse: — south of England”
“These were oblong, trencher-shaped bowls about eighteen inches long; across the trough ran lengthwise a stick or rod on which rested the sieve, searse, or temse, when flour was sifted into the trough.”
“One of those days I am advised by the smiling voteseeker who’s now snoring elued to positively strike off hiking for good and all as I bldy well bdly ought until such temse as some mood is made under privy-sealed orders to get me an increase of automoboil and foot-wear for these poor discalced and a bourse from bon Somewind for”
“Thames (or temse) on fire, "meant that hard work and active friction would set the wooden temse on fire.”
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