throw in the towel


[tou-uhl, toul]
an absorbent cloth or paper for wiping and drying something wet, as one for the hands, face, or body after washing or bathing.
verb (used with object), toweled, toweling or (especially British) towelled, towelling.
to wipe or dry with a towel.
throw in the towel, Informal. to concede defeat; give up; yield: He vowed he would never throw in the towel.

1250–1300; Middle English (noun) < Old French toaille cloth for washing or wiping < West Germanic *thwahliō (> Old High German dwahilla, akin to dwahal bath); cognate with Gothic thwahl, thwēal washing Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
towel (ˈtaʊəl)
1.  a square or rectangular piece of absorbent cloth or paper used for drying the body
2.  a similar piece of cloth used for drying plates, cutlery, etc
3.  throw in the towel See throw in
vb (often foll by up) , -els, -elling, -elled, -els, -eling, -eled
4.  to dry or wipe with a towel
5.  slang (Austral) to assault or beat (a person)
[C13: from Old French toaille, of Germanic origin; related to Old High German dwahal bath, Old Saxon twahila towel, Gothic thwahan to wash]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

1284, from O.Fr. toaille (12c.), from Frank. *thwahlja, from P.Gmc. *thwakhlijon (cf. O.S. thwahila, M.Du. dwale "towel," Du. dwaal "altar cloth," O.H.G. dwehila "towel," Ger. dial. Zwehle "napkin"); related to Ger. zwagen, O.E. þwean "to wash." Sp. toalla, It. tovaglia are Gmc. loan-words. The
verb is first recorded 1836. Towelette is recorded from 1902.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Cultural Dictionary

throw in the towel definition

To quit in defeat. The phrase comes from boxing, in which a fighter indicates surrender by throwing a towel into the ring: “After losing the election, he threw in the towel on his political career.”

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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