Posted by R. Berg on January 19, 2003
In Reply to: TOE the line posted by James Briggs on January 19, 2003
: : : "Tow the line" my understanding is this phrase comes from an old boxing rule where each boxer would put the tow of the left boot on a line drawn on the ground then start fighting anyone heard a different version.
: : It's "toe", not "tow". I've also read claims that it may have sprung from the starting of a race, but the origin does seem to be from the sporting world, regardless.
: In one suggested origin the Line actually exists and is still found in the House of Commons. It was put there to mark the sword distance between Government and Opposition front benches. Members were told to toe the line if, in the eyes of the Speaker, they became too excited.
In the U.S. we use metal detectors instead. Legislators must check their swords at the door.