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Thread: in tow

  1. #1
    Anonymous Guest

    Default in tow

    (from Cambridge Dictionary of American English)
    definition:

    If someone is in tow, they are with someone else:

    She arrived with her three children in tow.
    ___________________

    my questions:

    1. someone = they?
    2. the three children's mother is someone else?
    3. what's the diffenence if we say "She arrived with her three children" ,
    without adding "in tow"?

    thanks!

  2. #2
    Red5 is offline Webmaster, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default

    From Dictionary.com

    tow1
    tr.v. towed, tow·ing, tows
    To draw or pull behind by a chain or line: a tugboat towing a barge. See Synonyms at pull.

    n.

    The act or an instance of towing.
    The condition of being towed: a car with a trailer in tow.
    Something, such as a tugboat, that tows.
    Something, such as a barge or car, that is towed.
    A rope or cable used in towing.

    Idiom:
    in tow
    Under close guidance; in one's charge: The new student was taken in tow by a peer counselor.
    As a companion or follower: came to dinner with a friend in tow.


    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    [Middle English towen, from Old English togian. See deuk- in Indo-European Roots.]
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    towa·ble adj.
    tower n.

    Source: The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition
    Copyright © 2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
    Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
    Red5
    Webmaster, UsingEnglish.com

  3. #3
    Join Date
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    Default Re: in tow

    Quote Originally Posted by Anonymous
    (from Cambridge Dictionary of American English)
    definition:

    If someone is in tow, they are with someone else:

    She arrived with her three children in tow.
    ___________________

    my questions:

    1. someone = they?
    2. the three children's mother is someone else?
    3. what's the diffenence if we say "She arrived with her three children" ,
    without adding "in tow"?

    thanks!
    When a woman (or anybody for that matter) arrives with her children in tow, it's meant to emphasize that the children are a bit of a burden. If you simply say she "arrived with her three children," it's just a statement of fact, but saying they're "in tow" adds an extra sense of its being a burden, as the mental image is one of tow lines between the woman and her children (ie. she has to pull them everywhere she goes).


    It doesn't only apply to children, however. A man could arrive at a party with his wife (or vice versa) in tow, and that would have the same "burdensome" overtones that it has with children.

  4. #4
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    Jul 2004
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    Default Re: in tow

    Following closely behind and under the control, verbally or physically, of the person ahead

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