Tow vs. Toe the Line

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 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!
: like

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"