Posted by Jim on January 04, 2002
In Reply to: Tow vs. Toe the Line posted by Mike Portwood on January 04, 2002
: : : Unofficially, but in my strong opinion, it's only a sign of ignorance. "Toe the line" means to place your feet as prescribed. To tow a line would mean to drag it and doesn't call up any relevant image.
: : Ignorance. But don't underestimate the power of ignorance. Some fine phrases have been created that way. Not that I can think of any right now. I do recall one phrase mangled by a friend. The phrase was "I don't know him from Adam's off ox." She said, "I don't know him from Madam Allfox." That has a nice ring to it.
: : For more dicussion, search under "toe" in the archives.
: After further thinking (sometimes I do that) I can see
: your point...in it's spoken form, "tow the line"
: to many likely makes more "written sense" than
: "toe the line", which to many would make no sense.
: The fact that they both sound the same when spoken
: would contribute to the confusion...and the assumption.
: Thus the occurance of tow would increase over time,
: and thus provide positive feedback to more and more
: people that it is 'tow' and not 'toe'. In the instances
: I have seen this phrase recently, it appears about as often
: in one form as the other. I would wager though, that
: if you looked at where the two occurances are found
: one may find 'tow' in, shall I say, "colloquial" places
: like web sites, general distribution brochures, ads, newspapers,etc.,
: while 'toe' would be more dominant in "literary" publications
: like textbooks, novels...or in forums like this ;-)
: If this is the cause of the growing "dichotomy", we
: may find 'toe' gradually giving way to 'tow' in popular usage.
: Time will tell I guess! Isn't language wonderful!
Another variation. "I don't know him from Adam's Apple" meaning, very unfamiliar. Simple word play in the vein of but antonymic to knowing "like the back of my hand"