Toe the line or Tow the line?

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Lately I’ve been seeing people posting about being asked to “tow the line.” Now, I can imagine why this expression is used if I envision the act of towing something with a rope. But in fact, the expression should be “toe the line.” Instead of imagining towing something on a line, imagine standing in line. Your toes are at the line. This is the meaning of “toe the line.” It means to remain in line or to obey.

Speaking of misheard, or miswritten sayings. I read in a newspaper article no less, the expression “make ends meat.” I can’t even imagine how the writer got this wrong, since clearly the expression is about pulling two things together to meet, not turning it into an edible animal product. Usually we use this to refer to making our income and expenses come together. If we have a limited income, it may be difficult to pay our bills; hence, it’s hard to make ends meet.

Do you know any other miswritten sayings? Let me know. Use the Free Grammar Help link in the sidebar.

About Peter J. Francis

Peter J. Francis is owner and operator of HyperGraphix Publishing Services ( He has over 30 years of professional writing and editing experience. He holds a BA (Honors) degree in English (1987), a B. Ed. degree from SFU (2005) and a certificate in Special Education from SFU (2011). He teaches high school and offers editing services as time is available.