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Tow vs. Toe the Line

Posted by ESC on January 04, 2002

In Reply to: Tow vs. Toe the Line posted by R. Berg on January 04, 2002

: : I've seen this phrase used in both forms on web sites, in articles, books, brochures, etc. I know from
: : discussions/histories that 'toe' is the original form, but observe that both "toe the line" and "tow the line" have basically
: : the same application and meanings when used. My question is, "officially"...and I realize that could vary from
: : authority to authority...are both forms as used today considered correct and acceptable, or
: : is using 'tow' instead of 'toe' only a sign of ignorance/poor usage?

: : Regards,
: : Mike

: 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.