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The light therefore that must guide us in this question, must be that which is held out unto us from the books themselves: and this light, though it shew us not the author of every book,

yet it is not unuseful to give us knowledge of the time wherein they were written


Wonderful the English language that has Shew and shewn as well as the common show.



"All season tickets must be shewn".














Mr Elliot had attempted no apology, and shewn himself as unsolicitous of being longer noticed by the family, as Sir Walter considered him unworthy of it: all acquaintance between them had ceased.



Thirteen winters' revolving frosts had seen her opening every ball of credit which a scanty neighbourhood afforded, and thirteen springs shewn their blossoms, as she travelled up to London with her father,

for a few weeks' annual enjoyment of the great world.

Shew was once the most common past participle of show, with shewn also appearing and shew or shewed for the past tense.

It also has a long use as the present tense.

For added confusion, shew seems to have changed pronunciation before it changed spelling, so if you come across shew in an older text you can't be sure whether it would be pronounced /ʃuː/ or pronounced /ʃəʊ/.

It remained very common for a long time especially in Scotland, north England, and Ulster but also various other places throughout the English-speaking world, particularly rural.

The Ulster part has an interesting example, there were propaganda posters around the time of the Treaty by those who wanted to remain in the United Kingdom and who were mostly in North East Ulster—the partition that created Northern Ireland having come about as a compromise between their concerns and that of the rest of the island—which would use "we'll shew 'em" precisely because it was a form more likely to be found among Ulstermen than among other Irishmen. (Though it would still have been common enough south of the future border then, as well).

It's increasingly rare as more standardised education increasingly deems it "wrong", but it's certainly not surprising to find.

Glew I have only heard of being used as a present-tense verb (now obsolete) or as the past of glowmeaning "to stare" (now mostly obsolete). I wouldn't be amazed to hear that some dialect that had shew instead of showed or shown had a from glew instead of glowed modelled after it.

The spelling shew, prevalent in the 18th c. and not uncommon in the first half of the 19th c., is now obs. exc. in legal documents. It represents the obsolete pronunciation (indicated by rhymes like view, true down to c 1700) normally descending from the OE. scéaw- with falling diphthong. The present pronunciation, to which the present spelling corresponds, represents an OE. (? dialectal) sceāw- with a rising diphthong.

The latest citation I could find for that sort of spelling antedates the American Revolution, albeit by a scant two years from when it was written (although not when it was published):

  • 1774 Goldsm. Nat. Hist. (1776) V. 210 — A partridge is shewn him, and he is then ordered to lie down.

From Guy Mannering or The Astrologer, Scotsman Sir Walter Scott writes in 1815:

  • 1815 Scott Guy M. x, — The chase then shewed Hamburgh colours, and returned the fire.

Scott also used that spelling for the noun:

  • 1789 Scott in J. Haggard Rep. Consist. Crt. (1822) I. 13 — It often happens that on a shew of hands, the person has the majority, who on a poll is lost in a minority.

Shakespeare normally used show, but in one noun instance he used shew:

  • 1611 Shaks. Cymb. v. v. 428 - As I slept, me thought Great Iupiter vpon his Eagle back’d Appear’d to me, with other sprightly shewes Of mine owne Kindred.

And no one less that Charles Dickens wrote in 1840:

1840 Dickens Old C. Shop xvi, — ‘Good!’ said the old man, venturing to touch one of the puppets,.. ‘Are you going to shew ’em to-night?’

It has an old-timey feel to it.

On glew

Saying glew is something else altogether. It is either much older and in Middle not Modern English, where it showed clear derivation from its Old English ancestor:

  • C. 1000 Ælfric Saints’ Lives vii. 240 — Þæt fyr wearð þa acwenced þæt þær an col ne gleow.

  • A. 1400 Isumbras 394 — Smethymene thore herde he blawe, And fyres thore bryne and glewe [rime ploghe].

Notice the mention of the rhyme with plow/plough in 1400.

So your glew is either pre-Modern English, or else it is a different verb altogether, and in the present tense. There’s one from glee:

  • 1. intr. To make merry; to jest; to play on musical instruments.
  • 2. To call loudly on.
  • 3. trans. To afford entertainment or pleasure to; to make happy.

And another that appears pseudo-archaic from glow with the sense:

  • 1. intr. To gaze, stare.

Both those glew verbs are now considered obsolete in Standard English.

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