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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 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 ?
Blaisdell pointed out that all tow truck operators had an equal opportunity to bid on the contract.
In Eugene, the tow industry does big business - last year, 1,880 cars were towed within city limits, police records show.
We were going to do that once a month or so with Denny but a little later he got a job driving long haul and he sold his tow truck to a guy who didn't want to do AAA, so that was the end of fecking that.
This anthology of crime and passion began when the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals issued its opinion in Mayer, eviscerating local government regulation of motor vehicle transportation by a tow truck.
According to Paginton, a reputable tow company would never offer or condone done passengers riding in their own vehicles.
The report indicates that prior to AutoReturn, complaints against tow companies by citizens averaged 2 complaints a week.
He said Pat's will tow around 150 to 200 cars during a large snowstorm, although he said the numbers have gone down as more residents become more familiar with the parking ban.
Drivers, bartenders, party hosts or passengers of a drinking driver may call for a free tow at (800) 400-4AAA.
The X-34 being used for the tow tests will also be used for unpowered flights to test landing approaches and landing-gear steering and braking.
It was used as a training device,'' Hunley said of the Pontiac tows.
When linked with auto clubs and others, contractors can accept tows from industry-wide sources.
to refund $1,000 to customers overcharged for police-ordered tows in January.
Abusive towing includes a wide range of misconduct, including excessive or unbundled fees, failing to notify vehicle owners about a tow, failing to provide information about where the vehicle is being stored, lack of standards for statements or receipts and intentionally vague language or stalling surrounding release procedures.
A few minutes later, a black Falcon flatbed truck with distinctive purple flames painted on the sides arrives at Madison Place and hauls off the vehicle to a fenced tow yard about a mile away on Southbridge Street.
TOW and Bradley TOW units that don't use the 2W1 cable adapter are guaranteed to be making large withdrawals from their bank account.