- 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.
- ski tow.
- in 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
SynonymsSee more synonyms for tow on Thesaurus.com
- (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 towed
- 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
- the fibres of hemp, flax, jute, etc, in the scutched state
- synthetic fibres preparatory to spinning
- the coarser fibres discarded after combing
Word Origin and History for in tow
"pull with a rope," Old English togian "to drag, pull," from Proto-Germanic *tugojanan (cf. Old English teon "to draw," Old Frisian togia "to pull about," Old Norse toga, Old High German zogon, German ziehen "to draw, pull, drag"), from PIE root *deuk- "to pull, draw" (cf. Latin ducere "to lead;" see duke (n.)). Related: Towed; towing. The noun meaning "act or fact of being towed" is recorded from 1620s. Towaway, in reference to parking zones, is recorded from 1956.
"coarse, broken fibers of flax, hemp, etc.," late 14c., probably from Old English tow- "spinning" (in towlic "fit for spinning"), perhaps cognate with Gothic taujan "to do, make," Middle Dutch touwen "to knit, weave."
Idioms and Phrases with in tow
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]
see in tow.