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Toe or tow the line ? Login/Join 
I'm Fine
Picture of SBrooks
posted
I always thought it was toe. Reading "gray man" book and that author used tow. Which is it ?


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SBrooks
 
Posts: 3678 | Location: East Tennessee | Registered: August 21, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Hell, I reckon it could be either, depending on where you come from. I always thought "toe", considering military formations.
 
Posts: 258 | Location: Northeast GA | Registered: February 15, 2021Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Nullus Anxietas
Picture of ensigmatic
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It's "toe": Writing tip 221: "Toe the Line" vs. "Tow the Line"

TL;DR: "There's no "towing" or "hauling" involved.

It's like people getting "Long row to hoe" or "Tough row to hoe" wrong and writing it as "long road to hold" or whatever.




"America is at that awkward stage. It's too late to work within the system,,,, but too early to shoot the bastards." -- Claire Wolfe
"If we let things terrify us, life will not be worth living." -- Seneca the Younger, Roman Stoic philosopher
"The dominant media is no more ``mainstream`` than leftists are liberals." -- me
 
Posts: 20909 | Location: S.E. Michigan | Registered: January 06, 2008Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Internet Guru
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Put your toes on the line.
 
Posts: 1367 | Registered: April 06, 2013Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Picture of Pyker
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'Toe the line' - used in boxing, like 'come up to scratch'. In bare knuckle fighting there used to be a line in the ring called the 'scratch line'. If you couldn't get up and 'toe the line' or 'come up to scratch', you lost the bout.
 
Posts: 1573 | Location: Lake Country, Minnesota | Registered: September 06, 2019Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Little ray
of sunshine
Picture of jhe888
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Toe. Put your toes on the line, like in a military formation or the scratch line in boxing.

I always heard it was from navies, where sailors lined up with their toes (and on sailing ships, some sailors didn't wear shoes), on the lines of the deck.

And why would it be tow? I can't think of any context where lines are towed. Lines may be hauled or pulled, but the word tow is not used in relation to lines.




The fish is mute, expressionless. The fish doesn't think because the fish knows everything.
 
Posts: 50323 | Location: Texas | Registered: February 10, 2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Nullus Anxietas
Picture of ensigmatic
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quote:
Originally posted by jhe888:
And why would it be tow? I can't think of any context where lines are towed.

Same reason some people say or write "Long road to hoe." Why would one hoe a road--of any length, much less a long one?




"America is at that awkward stage. It's too late to work within the system,,,, but too early to shoot the bastards." -- Claire Wolfe
"If we let things terrify us, life will not be worth living." -- Seneca the Younger, Roman Stoic philosopher
"The dominant media is no more ``mainstream`` than leftists are liberals." -- me
 
Posts: 20909 | Location: S.E. Michigan | Registered: January 06, 2008Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Picture of Pyker
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quote:
And why would it be tow? I can't think of any context where lines are towed. Lines may be hauled or pulled, but the word tow is not used in relation to lines.


Canals. They used to tow the barges with horses or people - 'tow the line(s)', but it's not the origin of the phrase which is: 'Toe the line' as explained above/
 
Posts: 1573 | Location: Lake Country, Minnesota | Registered: September 06, 2019Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Little ray
of sunshine
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quote:
Originally posted by ensigmatic:
quote:
Originally posted by jhe888:
And why would it be tow? I can't think of any context where lines are towed.

Same reason some people say or write "Long road to hoe." Why would one hoe a road--of any length, much less a long one?


Maybe it is "long road to 'ho." There used to be a stretch of South Main here in Houston where prostitutes used to work. Wink




The fish is mute, expressionless. The fish doesn't think because the fish knows everything.
 
Posts: 50323 | Location: Texas | Registered: February 10, 2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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'It's a long row ( not 'road') to hoe' as in farming/gardening. A tough or strenuous task.



.
 
Posts: 1573 | Location: Lake Country, Minnesota | Registered: September 06, 2019Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Are there perhaps fishing applications that TOW a line? I agree with TOE, but thought that might be the only other arguable context.
 
Posts: 258 | Location: Northeast GA | Registered: February 15, 2021Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Muzzle flash
aficionado
Picture of flashguy
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It comes from persons spelling it the way they hear it instead of knowing what it actually means. It is rampant in the current generation, which has no idea of the roots of many sayings. (Or of anything else that matters.)

flashguy




Texan by choice, not accident of birth
 
Posts: 25634 | Location: Dallas, TX | Registered: May 08, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Peace through
superior firepower
Picture of parabellum
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quote:
Originally posted by SBrooks:
Reading "gray man" book and that author used tow.
Well, unless he means, literally, hauling/pulling a line/rope/cable of some sort, he's wrong.
 
Posts: 94852 | Registered: January 20, 2000Reply With QuoteReport This Post
The Unmanned Writer
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Spelled "To"

It's Chinese for "Watch your ass doom fook"









Only in an insane world are the sane considered insane.


The memories of a man in his old age
Are the deeds of a man in his prime


 
Posts: 12941 | Location: It was Lat: 33.xxxx Lon: 44.xxxx now it's CA :( | Registered: March 22, 2008Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Freethinker
Picture of sigfreund
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My earliest recollection of the term was in reference to boxing matches that had no set limits. “Toe the line” or “come up to [the] scratch [on the floor]” meant that the boxer was ready to continue the fight. A related term from boxing was, I believe, “throw in the towel” to indicate that the fighter had had enough and wasn’t going to continue.

quote:
Originally posted by flashguy:
It comes from persons spelling it the way they hear it instead of knowing what it actually means.


Yes, and I sometimes wonder if they think about the expressions they use and what they mean. Sometimes alternative words might make some sense, but often not.

The opposite was probably more common at one time among people who read a lot: knowing what a word means without ever having heard it pronounced. I still remember having my pronunciation of “trilogy” corrected, and there are still words whose pronunciation is a mystery to me to this day. Fortunately, an advantage of the Internet is being able to ask to hear them.

As for word usage errors in books, it seems to be more common all the time. Once there was a notion that editors were automatically language usage paragons who knew all the arcane rules and had a sharp eye for picking out the errors. Today I must remind myself that lack of rigor in education affects everyone in all professions.

Plus there’s the fact that if a word is used in a new way—even incorrectly—long enough by enough people, then it becomes correct by definition. Just as Internet dictionaries indicate that “begging the question” can now mean “prompting” or “raising” a question rather than the term’s original meaning, perhaps “tow” the line will become acceptable at some time in the future when the original word has been forgotten by most people.




“The fundamental cause of trouble in the world today is that the stupid are cocksure while the intelligent are full of doubt.”
— Bertrand Russell
 
Posts: 44216 | Location: 10,150 Feet Above Sea Level in Colorado | Registered: April 04, 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
My other Sig
is a Steyr.
Picture of .38supersig
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Yup, toe the line.

When the rubber hit the road... it was in Argentina. That phrase predates tires. Wink


 
Posts: 7069 | Location: Somewhere looking for ammo that nobody has at a place I haven't been to for a pistol I couldn't live without... | Registered: December 02, 2014Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Picture of RichardC
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And then, there s 'draggin' the line.'

Gimme some peace of mind and tell me what THAT meant.


_____________________
"Physics is like politics. It puts real effort into fighting imaginary forces." --- Fortnine
 
Posts: 12883 | Location: Florida | Registered: June 23, 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Picture of mcrimm
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quote:
Originally posted by RichardC:
And then, there s 'draggin' the line.'


https://www.youtube.com/watch?...b_channel=jwhineryjr



I'm sorry if I hurt you feelings when I called you stupid - I thought you already knew - Unknown
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When you have no future, you live in the past. " Sycamore Row" by John Grisham
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Liberalism is a failure to find pathways to intelligence in your brain. - David Lawrence
 
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