Main definitions of tow in English

: tow1tow2TOW3

tow1

verb

[with object]
  • 1(of a motor vehicle or boat) pull (another vehicle or boat) along with a rope, chain, or tow bar.

    ‘a pickup van towing a trailer’
    ‘a man called to tow the car away’
    ‘the authorities refused to allow the tanker to be towed into their ports’
    • ‘Traffic coming up the busy main road was directed around the smashed cars for about an hour until both vehicles were towed away.’
    • ‘Crew members have been ordered to wear gas masks until the ship is towed to port, which may take several days.’
    • ‘Most current visitors come by car, though a good many of these vehicles are also towing boats.’
    • ‘A member has recently alerted us to a potential insurance problem with regard to towing boat trailers with hired vehicles.’
    • ‘Unless you tow a boat or trailer, or need an SUV to earn a living, is an eight-cylinder engine worth the extra cost of taking out a large loan?’
    • ‘A fleet of classic tractors tow passenger-carrying trailers around the perimeter road, taking visitors to the prime viewing locations all around the circuit.’
    • ‘There were parking attendants and tow trucks there issuing tickets and towing vehicles away.’
    • ‘An hour or two later, the ferry tows the gigs home.’
    • ‘In the past, the police have had to tow vehicles out of the way because buses cannot come through.’
    • ‘Presumably that hitch is used to tow a boat, or a big camping trailer, or something like that.’
    • ‘They particularly want to hear from the occupants of two vehicles, a white caravanette and a car towing a caravan, who may have seen the accident.’
    • ‘Another factor was that big cars would always be needed to tow boats and caravans, he said.’
    • ‘He will be supported by his wife and two friends travelling in a back-up vehicle towing a caravan.’
    • ‘Officers spotted the car, which was towing a speed boat on a trailer, being driven erratically.’
    • ‘After towing the boat off the beach, locals left it anchored just off the coast.’
    • ‘Following a whopping breakfast we followed guide Greg, towing the boat with his pick-up truck, down to the boat ramp.’
    • ‘Not only cars pass me at these speeds but lorries and, would you believe, cars towing caravans!’
    • ‘It was followed on the road by a van towing a trailer and behind that again was a car, which collided with the back of the trailer.’
    • ‘His vehicle, which was towing a trailer, had a hydraulic winch, used for driving fence posts, mounted on the front.’
    • ‘So if you're a looking for something to tow a large boat or caravan this vehicle certainly has the horses under the bonnet to do so with ease.’
    pull, draw, drag, haul, tug, trail, lug, heave, trawl, hoist, transport
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 (of a person) pull along behind one.
      ‘she saw Florian towing Nicky along by the hand’
      • ‘You could tow him out to a village fête and charge children 50p to bounce on him.’
      • ‘He passes me, and I tuck in behind, letting him tow me along.’
      • ‘She came clear, and I started towing her with one hand.’
      • ‘With that, the boy grabbed the girl's hand and took off towards the front of the car, towing the girl along behind him.’
      • ‘The shops are filled with wealthy women towing toddlers called Jamie or Arabella.’
      • ‘Not to mention I had to miss half of my afternoon classes just so that he could tow me around.’

noun

  • 1An act of towing a vehicle or boat.

    ‘the cruiser got a tow from a warship after its engine failed’
    • ‘We stopped to give a tow to that stranded boat, the one with the two families on it.’
    • ‘The worst would have cost an extra £120 and seen us forced to take a tow all the way home.’
    • ‘And if you find yourself getting tired, Matti will happily start up the outboard on his boat (outside Kolovesi NP) and give you a tow.’
    • ‘A short drive, and $106 later (and that was relatively cheap for a tow of that distance) we were at the workshop and dropped the car off to be looked at.’
    • ‘When that gave out they had to take a tow at 60 miles an hour from the Ford Corsair with very dodgy brakes - ‘terrifying’.’
    • ‘To receive reimbursement consideration, the invoice must be submitted within 90 days of the tow.’
    • ‘A tow was arranged and the stricken boat was towed back to Derbyhaven.’
    • ‘The naval antenna system's 60-ton anchor is complicating the tow.’
    • ‘Their only way out was to accept a tow from a large cargo ship.’
    • ‘Above, a mechanical fault meant the Flying Scotsman needed a tow to get to York.’
    • ‘Realising the going would not be good on the Knavesmire for heavy traffic they decided to offer a tow to vehicles taking part in the Northern Motor Caravan Show.’
    • ‘But also there was the cost of the tow, which was an additional 300 baht.’
    • ‘Last time I cycled it was in Exeter, where drivers often try to save cyclists energy, by hooking cyclists on their wing mirrors, and giving them a tow for the next 50 yards.’
    • ‘When a crab boat breaks down (a regular occurrence) and a tow is needed, the day is a loss while the rig is repaired.’
    • ‘This caused a huge headache and expense including a tow across the country by the RAC and the cost of a replacement car.’
    • ‘She ran under the wing and corrected, so I began the tow and she lifted into the air.’
    • ‘Towing with a brash sort of horse would be a bit like having a tow from a brash kind of driver who let out the clutch too suddenly - perhaps pulling off a front bumper.’
    • ‘If you are on a curve or the tow is fishtailing, the surge brake system will not be 100% and the rear of the tow vehicle can be pushed sideways by the inertia of the tow.’
    • ‘The Kiwis, in rather sharp contrast, opened a can of cold baked beans, were rostered to wash the dishes and clean the kitchen and ate their own sandwiches on the tow out to the Hauraki Gulf.’
    • ‘The macrotubule home was now on its way down to a horizontal position in the water to make ready for the tow out to our departure point.’
    tug, towing, haul, pull, drawing, drag, trailing, trawl
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 A rope or line used to tow a vehicle or boat.
      • ‘If I had been a beginner skier with so little time on the mountain, I'd still be belly-flopping off the rope tow.’
      • ‘When five-year-old Andrew strapped on skis for the first time, he begged his parents to let him go up the rope tow alone.’
      • ‘Though she was taken in tow by the steam tug Dominion, she was filling rapidly and in two hours, before they reached water shallow enough to beach her, the tow had to be cast off.’
      • ‘The 40-year-old ski area started out with a chairlift and a rope tow.’
      • ‘They were full of accounts of winter Sundays at a nearby country club that had just installed a rope tow and, even more maddening, of weekend ski trips to New Hampshire.’
      • ‘After towing Warrnambool for about 15 minutes over a distance of 2 miles at slow speed, the tow was cast off and recovered by Warrnambool.’
      • ‘By 1974, the rope tow moved up to Silver Star Mountain.’
      • ‘I was a little nervous to ride because the night before, I had hyperextended my arm in a stupid fall when I lost my balance riding a rope tow.’
      • ‘The Cleethorpes boat put two men on board, despite four-metre high waves, the tow was connected and slowly the bigger lifeboat started to drag the trawler out of the surf.’
      • ‘You'll find a steep slope, a rope tow, and a warming house that rents inner tubes of radical proportions.’
      • ‘After our morning indoor session, we hit the trails and skied to Duke's Ski Trail, an old downhill slope with a now defunct rope tow powered by a car.’
      • ‘It was so much easier that I could fiddle with my zipper with one hand, and not even be concerned about the tow.’
      • ‘The only good thing is releasing from the tow safely, at any attitude, with no tension or with outrageously high tension.’
      • ‘A thrown line and a tow got her back to the anchor-line, and down we went.’
      • ‘She couldn't get off the rope tow and ended up going to the top of the mountain.’
      • ‘Don't miss the tubing slope serviced by a rope tow - you'll feel like you're 10 again as you soar down the slopes on your Flexible Flyer.’
      • ‘For non-skiing fun in the snow, people of any age can find thrills on the groomed tubing hill with its individual lanes and rope tow.’

Usage

The phrase is toe the line, not tow the line: see toe

Phrases

  • in tow

    • 1Being towed by another vehicle or boat.

      ‘his boat was taken in tow by a trawler’
      ‘the shallop remained on tow when the ships left for the mainland’
      • ‘With trailer in tow, the vehicle's rear wheels act as a steering axle for the trailer.’
      • ‘Fortunately another club boat was able to take the prize in tow and bring one and all safely back to shore.’
      • ‘Two pilots smack in right off the dollies and one throws his chute just behind the tow paddock after locking out on tow and tumbling.’
      • ‘At 1100 ft on tow, I flew abreast of one of these monsters, so pinged off, and headed into it.’
      • ‘The agency quoted a Russian Defense Ministry official as saying that the 43,000-ton Kiev, on tow by a Chinese warship, left its North Fleet base about three weeks ago.’
      • ‘As I reported earlier, it is easier to aerotow from your shoulders than the Falcons (even a bit easier than the Attack Falcon) basically because it can fly a bit faster and so on tow you are not near the top of its speed range.’
      • ‘How anyone could fail to see in such perfect visibility that Light Vessel 83 was on tow with a tug not far ahead of her is equally mind-boggling.’
      • ‘One day the poor boatmen had to paddle not just our unwieldy vessel upstream, but Richard and the girls on tow in a little rowing boat.’
      • ‘When the winds are strong it is easier to go high on tow, in fact you can kite while on tow, but you are very quickly out of the field as you chase thermals.’
      • ‘I had already tested the knife cleat yesterday afternoon and it worked fine. The problem was that while on tow I didn't look at the control frame when I thought I released the flap cord.’
    • 2Accompanying or following someone.

      ‘trying to shop with three children in tow is no joke’
      • ‘She followed Bryan and Will out of the office, Vicky in tow and headed towards the main stairwell.’
      • ‘Boy and Girl, now Mr and Mrs, return to Ireland with two kids in tow, and another great comedy production!’
      • ‘Kids and pets were always in tow with Paul and earth-mother Linda leading the pack.’
      • ‘And worse still, she will accompany me with my two young children in tow.’
      • ‘On several occasions I was nearly run off the road, babies in tow, by these behemoths.’
      • ‘Now, for the first time since that day, here she was with family in tow.’
      • ‘However, arrive late so you miss the trailers, especially if you do have very small ones in tow.’
      • ‘They were on their way to the bar to get drinks, but they ended up mucking around with me for a while before they went back to their table with me in tow.’
      • ‘Scott didn't seem to notice and she followed in tow behind him as they made their way to a group near a far wall.’
      • ‘I followed him in tow until we came to a bench behind the school along the cross country trail.’
      accompanying, following, in attendance, in convoy, by one's side, in one's charge, under one's protection
      View synonyms

Origin

Old English togian ‘draw, drag’, of Germanic origin; related to tug. The noun dates from the early 17th century.

Pronunciation

tow

/təʊ/

Main definitions of tow in English

: tow1tow2TOW3

tow2

noun

mass noun
  • 1The coarse and broken part of flax or hemp prepared for spinning.

    • ‘The bales of finished fibre were sold to rope and twine makers, locally or overseas, while the short tangled tow teased out by the scutcher, went to furniture makers for stuffing armchairs and sofas.’
    • ‘In this process, which is much faster than that using guillotine cutters, tow is dyed, finished, cut, dried, screened, and bagged in one continuous operation.’
    1. 1.1count noun A bundle of untwisted natural or man-made fibres.

Origin

Old English (recorded in towcræft ‘spinning’), of Germanic origin.

Pronunciation

tow

/təʊ/

Main definitions of tow in English

: tow1tow2TOW3

TOW3

abbreviation

  • Tube-launched, optically tracked, wire-guided (missile).

Pronunciation

TOW

/təʊ/