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50 Mistreated Words and Desecrated Phrases: Tow the Line

Hey, where are you going with that line? All kidding aside, it’s not really possible to tow the line – at least, not in the way most folks use this phrase.

Maybe it’s time to toe the line and set the record straight. This expression points to obeying the rules, observing propriety, or doing something with absolute correctness. It’s all about standing right on the line, as if at full attention in a military lineup.

Towing the line might be OK, if one were talking about boating. It could also be used to talk about a tug-of-war contest.

But usually, this phrase is misused when folks really mean toeing the line.

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