Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun plural A whip or leather thong used to drive a spinning top.
  • noun plural A leather whip divided at the end into strips, formerly used to punish children.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun A leather strap or thong which is split into (typically about three) tails, used for corporal punishment in schools.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • noun a leather strap for punishing children

Etymologies

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[From taw.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Apparently a plural form of taw, though attested earlier.

Examples

  • Also known as a “split paddle,” a tawse is a wide leather strap split into strips at the end light to intense.

    Come Hither

  • Also known as a “split paddle,” a tawse is a wide leather strap split into strips at the end light to intense.

    Come Hither

  • Also known as a “split paddle,” a tawse is a wide leather strap split into strips at the end light to intense.

    Come Hither

  • Just as he got astride the sill he spied a piece of chalk and the "tawse" on the table, so turning back he put the "tawse" in his pocket, and with the chalk wrote on the table: --

    The Underworld The Story of Robert Sinclair, Miner

  • He ran a long way, until finding that he had not been detected, he skirted a small wood, dug a hole in the soft moss, put in the "tawse," and covered them up.

    The Underworld The Story of Robert Sinclair, Miner

  • The strips had been hardened in the fire, and the 'tawse' was a holy horror to the boys, who saw it often and were threatened with it sometimes, but who had felt it never.

    Despair's Last Journey

  • The thong is the familiar "tawse" of schools north of the Border.

    Roman life in the days of Cicero

  • A design variation on the tawse is a “devil’s hand” moderate to intense, which is a leather paddle cut to resemble a three-fingered hand.

    Come Hither

  • A design variation on the tawse is a “devil’s hand” moderate to intense, which is a leather paddle cut to resemble a three-fingered hand.

    Come Hither

  • A design variation on the tawse is a “devil’s hand” moderate to intense, which is a leather paddle cut to resemble a three-fingered hand.

    Come Hither

Comments

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  • "'We'd mostly get it across the palm of the hand with a tawse, in the schoolhouse, instead of on the backside. Father said if he whipped me on the hand, I'd not be able to do any work, whereas if he whipped my arse, I'd at least not be tempted to sit down and be idle.'"

    —Diana Gabaldon, Outlander (NY: Delacorte Press, 1991), 401

    January 2, 2010