\ ˈthōl How to pronounce thole (audio) \
tholed; tholing

Definition of thole

 (Entry 1 of 2)

chiefly dialectal



Definition of thole (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : either of a pair of pins set in the gunwale of a boat to hold an oar in place
2 : peg, pin

The Long History of Thole


Thole has a long history in the English language. It existed in Middle English in its current form, and in Old English in the form tholian, but in these modern times it tholes only in a few of England’s northern dialects. It has, however, a linguistic cousin far more familiar to most English speakers: the word tolerate traces back to Latin tolerare, meaning “to endure, put up with,” and tolerare and tholian share a common ancestor. Unrelated to our featured word thole, there is another (also very old) thole, which can be used as a synonym of peg or pin, or can refer to either of a pair of pins set in the gunwale of a boat to hold an oar in place.

First Known Use of thole


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined above


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for thole


Middle English, from Old English tholian — more at tolerate


Middle English tholle, from Old English thol; akin to Old Norse thollr fir tree, peg, Greek tylos knob, callus

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about thole

Time Traveler for thole

Time Traveler

The first known use of thole was before the 12th century

See more words from the same century

Listen to Our Podcast about thole

Statistics for thole

Cite this Entry

“Thole.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Sep. 2020.

Comments on thole

What made you want to look up thole? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


Test Your Vocabulary

Homophone Quiz

  • three bears two of them look like theyre whispering to a third bear who looks chuffed to be the center of attention
  • In order to judge how people felt, the senator's office hired a firm to take a ______.
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Add Diction

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!