[ toh ]
/ toʊ /
verb (used with object)
to pull or haul (a car, barge, trailer, etc.) by a rope, chain, or other device: The car was towed to the service station.
an act or instance of towing.
something being towed.
something, as a boat or truck, that tows.
a rope, chain, metal bar, or other device for towing: The trailer is secured to the car by a metal tow.
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Idioms for tow
- in the state of being towed.
- under one's guidance; in one's charge.
- as a follower, admirer, or companion: a professor who always had a graduate student in tow.
under tow, in the condition of being towed; in tow.
Origin of tow1
before 1000; Middle English towen (v.), Old English togian to pull by force, drag; cognate with Middle High German zogen to draw, tug, drag. See tug
OTHER WORDS FROM towtow·a·ble, adjectivetow·a·bil·i·ty, noun
WORDS THAT MAY BE CONFUSED WITH towtoe tow
Words nearby tow
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2020
British Dictionary definitions for in tow (1 of 2)
/ (təʊ) /
(tr) to pull or drag (a vehicle, boat, etc), esp by means of a rope or cable
the act or an instance of towing
the state of being towed (esp in the phrases in tow, under tow, on tow)
something used for towing
in tow in one's charge or under one's influence
informal (in motor racing, etc) the act of taking advantage of the slipstream of another car (esp in the phrase get a tow)
short for ski tow
Derived forms of towtowable, adjective
Word Origin for tow
Old English togian; related to Old Frisian togia, Old Norse toga, Old High German zogōn
British Dictionary definitions for in tow (2 of 2)
/ (təʊ) /
the fibres of hemp, flax, jute, etc, in the scutched state
synthetic fibres preparatory to spinning
the coarser fibres discarded after combing
Derived forms of towtowy, adjective
Word Origin for tow
Old English tōw; related to Old Saxon tou, Old Norse tō tuft of wool, Dutch touwen to spin
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
Idioms and Phrases with in tow (1 of 2)
In one's charge or close guidance; along with one. For example, The older girl took the new student in tow, or Peter always had his family in tow. This expression alludes to the literal meaning of being pulled along. [Early 1700s]
Idioms and Phrases with in tow (2 of 2)
see in tow.
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.