The Word-Hoard: Thew



1. (Usually thews) Muscle or sinew.

2. (Thews) physical strength.


“Thew” is one of those lean yet powerful words that fits so well into a good action-laden scifi/fantasy story. When muscle and sinew aren’t cutting it and you just need a little something extra, you can always reach for “thew.”


There was a fleeting concussion, a fierce writhing and intertwining of limbs and bodies, and then Conan sprang clear, every thew quivering from the violence of his efforts; blood started where the grazing fingers had torn the skin. In that instant of contact he had experienced the ultimate madness of blasphemed nature; no human flesh had bruised his, but metal animated and sentient; it was a body of living iron which opposed his.

– Robert E. Howard, The Devil in Iron (1934)



  1. de Camp and Lin Carter go a little overboard throwing the “thews” around relative to Howard. I think Jordan uses the word once in six Conan books, probably as a conscious tribute.

    • Haha, that wouldn’t surprise me. Reading all the Solomon Kane stories and much of Conan, there are a few words I’ve come to recognize as being staples of Howard’s. Didn’t realize as I was reading, but thinking about it now…

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