- an absorbent cloth or paper for wiping and drying something wet, as one for the hands, face, or body after washing or bathing.
- to wipe or dry with a towel.
- throw in the towel, Informal. to concede defeat; give up; yield: He vowed he would never throw in the towel.
Origin of towel
- a square or rectangular piece of absorbent cloth or paper used for drying the body
- a similar piece of cloth used for drying plates, cutlery, etc
- throw in the towel See throw in (def. 4)
- to dry or wipe with a towel
- (often foll by up) Australian slang to assault or beat (a person)
Word Origin and History for throw in the towel
late 13c., from Old French toaille (12c.), from Frankish *thwahlja, from Proto-Germanic *thwakhlijon (cf. Old Saxon thwahila, Middle Dutch dwale "towel," Dutch dwaal "altar cloth," Old High German dwehila "towel," German dialectal Zwehle "napkin"); related to German zwagen, Old English þwean "to wash." Spanish toalla, Italian tovaglia are Germanic loan-words.
1836, from towel (n.). Related: Towelled; towelling.
throw in the towel
To quit in defeat. The phrase comes from boxing, in which a fighter indicates surrender by throwing a towel into the ring: “After losing the election, he threw in the towel on his political career.”
Idioms and Phrases with throw in the towel
see crying towel; throw in the sponge (towel).