throw in the towel


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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

throw in the towel

COMMON If you throw in the towel, you stop trying to do something, because you know that you cannot succeed. Klara's support, when even her son's trainers wanted to throw in the towel, was crucial. Note: Verbs such as chuck and toss are sometimes used instead of throw. One day I will be brave enough (or fed up enough) to chuck in the towel and start again. Note: You can also say that someone throws in the sponge. You're not the kind of man who throws in the sponge. You're a fighter and it's your fighting spirit which is going to save you. Note: In boxing, a fighter's trainer sometimes throws a towel or sponge into the ring as a signal of defeat in order to stop the fight before there are any more injuries.
See also: throw, towel

throw in the towel (or sponge)

abandon a struggle; admit defeat.
Boxers or their trainers traditionally signal defeat by throwing the towel or sponge used to wipe a contestant's face into the middle of the ring.
See also: throw, towel

throw in the ˈtowel/ˈsponge

(informal) stop doing something because you know that you cannot succeed; admit defeat: It’s a bit early to throw in the towel — you’ve only just started the job.
This idiom comes from boxing: throwing in the towel or sponge is a sign that a fighter accepts defeat.
See also: sponge, throw, 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 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