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take (something) in tow

To pull or drag something. Originally a nautical phrase used to describe the action of a ship towing something. They'll take the plane in tow and bring it back to the hangar.
See also: take, tow

take (one) in tow

To help or guide another person by acting as a mentor. My high school English teacher was a great mentor—she took me in tow and taught me invaluable skills, like how to read and write critically.
See also: take, tow


1. A strong undercurrent, as in the ocean. There's a really powerful undertow today, so I think the kids should stay out of the water.
2. A contrasting tone or aspect in art or literature. That movie is advertised as a comedy, but the humor has a strong undertow of sadness and despair.

in tow

Accompanying alongside or under one's supervision. I was so embarrassed when I arrived with the kids in tow only to realize that the invitation said adults only. The senator arrived to the press conference with her aides in tow.
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have someone or something in tow

Fig. to lead, pull, or tow someone or something around. Mrs. Smith has her son by the hand and in tow. That car has a boat in tow.
See also: have, tow

in tow

closely following; under someone's control. The nanny walked into the park with three children in tow. The manager went to the meeting with her staff in tow.
See also: tow

tow someone or something away*

to pull something, such as a car or a boat, away with another car, boat, etc. (The someone refers to the property of someone, not the person.) If I don't get back to my car, they will tow me away. The truck towed away my car. A big truck came and towed the illegally parked car away.
See also: away, tow

tow someone or something into something

 and tow someone or something in
to pull something, such as a car or a truck, into something, such as a garage. (The someone refers to the property of someone, not the person.) They had to tow my car into the garage to be repaired. They towed in my car.
See also: tow

tow someone or something out

(of some place) to pull something, such as a car, out of something, such as a ditch. (The someone refers to the property of someone, not the person.) The farmer used his tractor to tow Andrew out of the ditch. He towed the car out of the ditch.
See also: out, tow

tow someone or something out (to something)

to pull something, such as a boat, or someone in or on something out in the water, to something. (The someone refers to the property of someone, not the person.) Frank, who was on his surfboard, asked Tony to tow him out to the little island. We towed the raft out where the water is deep.
See also: out, tow

in tow

In one's charge or close guidance; along with one. For example, The older girl took the new student in tow, or Peter always had his family in tow. This expression alludes to the literal meaning of being pulled along. [Early 1700s]
See also: tow

in ˈtow

(informal) following closely behind; with you: Mrs Bridge arrived with her four children in tow.
See also: tow

in tow

1. In a condition of being towed: a car with a trailer in tow.
2. Under close guidance; in one's charge: The new student was taken in tow by a peer counselor.
3. As a companion or follower: came to dinner with a friend in tow.
See also: tow
References in periodicals archive ?
allowing tow truck licences and accreditations to be issued for one to five years, with scaled fees depending on the length of the term.
We're expecting the parade to be a large draw, with tow operators bringing their families, so we wanted to invite some vendors that would appeal to everyone, not just tow truck operators," Joanne Walcker said.
In some cases, bandit towers actually profile cars so they tow those that will bring them the most money with the least hassle.
Thanks to their training we located the casualty quickly and established a tow.
Five key towing tips recommended by Nissan and the Institute of Advanced Motorists are: Check you are legally allowed to tow.
If there are two cars of a similar quality and one has a tow bar but the other doesn't I would walk away from the one with the tow bar.
If you really don't want to - or need a tow bar -then our advice is to make sure you don't overpay, buy low mileage and make a judgment about whether the towing has been light or heavy.
After forking over $280 to get the car out of impound, he discovered the Accord had extensive steering and front-end damage caused by the tow.
The DVD includes demonstrations on how to correctly attach a trailer or caravan to the head of the hitch, how to maintain it and what to check for to ensure it is safe to tow.
The survey found almost one in 10 drivers who tow objects have driven over 60mph on a motorway when towing.
So I call the tow-truck guy again and he comes back to tow my car back to the shop where I got the new starter and timing mechanism and such.
The company told Tow that he would have to pay for a new test before he would be hired.
If a vehicle is disabled due to an accident or mechanical malfunction and a tow truck removes the vehicle upon the owner or operator's consent, or in some circumstances, upon the law enforcement officer's direction, these tows are considered consensual.