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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.
See also: tow

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 ?
The towed decoy system provides enhanced aircraft survivability by acting as a more inviting target for many types of missile threats.
Often the insurer and vehicle owner cannot immediately locate a vehicle that has been towed and the automobile verification process can be delayed while storage fees are assessed.
Drivers also will be required to contact property owners or tenants before towing vehicles; photograph the car to document that it is illegally parked; and give vehicle owners the chance to move their car if they arrive and find it is being towed, without paying fees beyond the cost of the hookup.
The driver towed the car off the freeway and was arrested.
AS the caravaning season approaches, the hidden dangers that caravans and other towed objects are bringing to Britain's roads have been revealed.
Outside the judge's chambers were several helpless and hapless consumers whose vehicles were involuntarily towed and only retrievable once the consumer paid towing and storage fees in excess and in addition to those fees authorized under Broward County's Code of Ordinances.
is being awarded a $10,580,805 cost-plus-fixed-fee modification to a previously awarded contract (N00024-99-C-6212) to exercise an option for additional engineering and technical services and support to the Omnibus Towed Systems Program for TB-29A/BQ towed array development which includes the manufacture of prototypes, upgrades and retrofit kits for Navy towed systems.
50 caliber, 20 mm, 40 mm, three-inch and five-inch gun ammunition at targets towed by VU planes.
But then, if your car or van has to be towed, what happens if you're a wheelchair-using driver or passenger?
After a nationwide procurement search and selection process, Kansas City selected AutoReturn, the nation's leading municipal towing management and logistics company, to oversee the city's towing operations and handle, track, and report on towed vehicles.
The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) on Wednesday said it towed more than 3,000 vehicles in the first two months of 2017 as it intensified road clearing operations to help ease traffic congestion in the metropolis.
Based on feedback received from consumers and stakeholders, regulations will come into effect by January 1, 2017, and will ensure tow and storage providers: Have permission from the consumer or someone acting on their behalf before towing or storing a vehicle, Publicly disclose rates and other information such as the provider's name and telephone number on tow trucks as well as in places of business, Accept credit card payments from consumers (and not insist on cash only), Notify consumers where their vehicle will be towed.
If a tow bar is unavailable, connect cables, chains or ropes to the pintle of the prime mover and to the lifting shackles of the towed vehicle.
The procedures are designed to provide a fair way of distributing police calls for towing service within the county, and give public transparency to the way towed and impounded vehicles were managed.
Because we towed in Fitchburg, the owners made a concentrated effort to do business with local merchants in the city of Fitchburg," said Ms.