towel

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crying towel

1. A figurative towel used to wipe away someone's tears; used sarcastically to imply that the person's woes or complaints are uncalled for or exaggerated. Oh, you have to pay a bit more in taxes because you're now making $100,000 more per year? Shall I get out a crying towel for you?
2. A person who listens to and/or offers sympathy for someone's troubles, complaints, or grief. I'm getting a little tired of being Charlie's crying towel every time he breaks up with some new boyfriend.
See also: crying, towel

throw in the towel

 and throw in the sponge; toss in the sponge
Fig. (From boxing, where this is done by a boxer's trainer to stop the fight.) to signal that one is going to quit; to quit. When John could stand no more of Mary's bad temper, he threw in the towel and left. Don't give up now! It's too soon to throw in the sponge.
See also: throw, towel

towel someone or something down

to rub someone or something dry with a towel. The mother toweled her child down and dressed her in clean clothes. She toweled down the child gently. Towel down the dog. He's wet and shaking.
See also: down, towel

towel someone or something off

to dry someone or something with a towel. The young mother toweled the baby off with a soft, warm towel. She toweled off the baby.
See also: off, towel

throw in the towel

to admit defeat or failure The union was forced to throw in the towel and settle their bitter dispute with the company.
Etymology: based on the literal meaning of throwing a towel into the ring in boxing (signaling that a fighter can no longer continue by throwing a towel into the area where the fight takes place)
See also: throw, towel

throw in the sponge/towel

  (informal)
to stop trying to do something because you know that you cannot succeed
Usage notes: If a boxer (= man who fights as a sport) throws a towel into the ring, he is showing that the other boxer has won.
Three of the original five candidates have now thrown in the towel.
See also: sponge, throw

crying towel

A figurative towel for wiping the tears of a self-pitying individual. For example, So you didn't make the first team? Get out the crying towel. This expression is always used sarcastically. [Slang; 1920s]
See also: crying, towel

throw in the sponge

Also, throw in the towel. Give up, acknowledge defeat, as in I can't move this rock; I'm throwing in the sponge, or Bill decided to throw in the towel and resign from his job. This idiom comes from boxing, where formerly a fighter (or his second) conceded defeat by throwing the sponge or towel used to wipe his face into the ring. [c. 1900]
See also: sponge, throw

towel off

v.
1. To dry oneself with a towel: The swimmer got out of the pool and toweled off.
2. To dry someone or something with a towel: I toweled off my wet feet before putting my socks on. We hosed the car down and toweled it off.
See also: off, towel

crying towel

n. someone or something used to comfort someone. It’s so sad. I guess I really need a crying towel today.
See also: crying, towel

throw in the towel

and throw in the sponge and toss in the sponge
tv. to quit; to give up. (From boxing, where a towel or sponge thrown into the ring indicates that a boxer has given up.) The candidate who was exposed by the press as a former pickpocket tossed in the sponge in a tearful press conference. I’m done! I’m tossing in the sponge!
See also: throw, towel

throw in the sponge

verb
See also: sponge, throw

throw in the towel

To quit. A prizefighter's sidemen use sponges to clean his face of sweat and blood. To toss the sponge into the ring during a fight signaled that the boxer had had enough—and so the sponge was no longer needed. In recent years, towels have been substituted for sponges in boxing matches, and consequently, in the expression too.
See also: throw, towel
References in classic literature ?
Besides, you promoters of cleanliness have been excessively careless and thoughtless, I don't know if I ought not to say audacious, to bring troughs and wooden utensils and kitchen dishclouts, instead of basins and jugs of pure gold and towels of holland, to such a person and such a beard; but, after all, you are ill-conditioned and ill-bred, and spiteful as you are, you cannot help showing the grudge you have against the squires of knights-errant.
Once or twice virtue has triumphed, and I have got out at six and half-dressed myself, and have taken my drawers and towel, and stumbled dismally off.
You steal 'm one fella towel, one fella cane-knife, two- ten fella cartridge.
Emma, bring out the cherry brandy; now, Jane, a needle and thread here; towels and water, Mary.
Mary gave him a tin basin of water and a piece of soap, and he went outside the door and set the basin on a little bench there; then he dipped the soap in the water and laid it down; turned up his sleeves; poured out the water on the ground, gently, and then entered the kitchen and began to wipe his face diligently on the towel behind the door.
She dipped a towel in water, and pressed it on the hot and helpless head which Mrs.
With pleasure," she answered, and brought a towel at once.
When they arrived at Mr Korbes's house, he was not at home; so the mice drew the carriage into the coach-house, Chanticleer and Partlet flew upon a beam, the cat sat down in the fireplace, the duck got into the washing cistern, the pin stuck himself into the bed pillow, the millstone laid himself over the house door, and the egg rolled himself up in the towel.
I also took along a towel and a cake of soap, to inspire respect in the Arabs, who would take me for a king in disguise.
Not far from him walked a fat major with a sallow, bloated, angry face, who was wearing a Kazan dressing grown tied round with a towel, and who evidently enjoyed the respect of his fellow prisoners.
So now when I enter the bedroom with the tray, on my arm is that badge of pride, the towel; and I approach with prim steps to inform Madam that breakfast is ready, and she puts on the society manner and addresses me as 'Sir,' and asks with cruel sarcasm for what purpose (except to boast) I carry the towel, and I say 'Is there anything more I can do for Madam?
For David, as I have noticed, loves to splash in his bath and to slip back into it from the hands that would transfer him to a towel.
m, is shoes, slippers, cap, towel, hair-brush, an' tobacco pouch.
She was out in the porch, with her head tied up in a towel, picking geese.
Can't you see that we're both Pups in the Wood and the missis is the cruel uncle after you with the dish towel and me with the flea liniment and a pink bow to tie on my tail.