1 [tou-er]
a building or structure high in proportion to its lateral dimensions, either isolated or forming part of a building.
such a structure used as or intended for a stronghold, fortress, prison, etc.
any of various fully enclosed fireproof housings for vertical communications, as staircases, between the stories of a building.
any structure, contrivance, or object that resembles or suggests a tower.
a tall, movable structure used in ancient and medieval warfare in storming a fortified place.
a tall, vertical case with accessible horizontal drive bays, designed to house a computer system standing on a desk or floor. Compare minitower.
Aviation. control tower.
verb (used without object)
to rise or extend far upward, as a tower; reach or stand high: The skyscraper towers above the city.
to rise above or surpass others: She towers above the other students.
Falconry. (of a hawk) to rise straight into the air; to ring up.
tower of strength, a person who can be relied on for support, aid, or comfort, especially in times of difficulty.

before 900; (noun) Middle English tour, earlier tur, tor < Old French < Latin turris < Greek týrris, variant of týrsis tower; Middle English tor perhaps in some cases continuing Old English torr < Latin turris, as above; (v.) late Middle English touren, derivative of the noun

towerless, adjective
towerlike, adjective Unabridged


2 [toh-er]
a person or thing that tows.

1485–95; tow1 + -er1


2 [toh]
the fiber of flax, hemp, or jute prepared for spinning by scutching.
the shorter, less desirable flax fibers separated from line fibers in hackling.
synthetic filaments prior to spinning.
made of tow.

1300–50; Middle English; Old English tōw- (in tōwlīc pertaining to thread, tōwhūs spinning house); akin to Old Norse wool Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
tow1 (təʊ)
1.  (tr) to pull or drag (a vehicle, boat, etc), esp by means of a rope or cable
2.  the act or an instance of towing
3.  the state of being towed (esp in the phrases in tow, under tow, on tow)
4.  something towed
5.  something used for towing
6.  in tow in one's charge or under one's influence
7.  informal (in motor racing, etc) the act of taking advantage of the slipstream of another car (esp in the phrase get a tow)
8.  short for ski tow
[Old English togian; related to Old Frisian togia, Old Norse toga, Old High German zogōn]

tow2 (təʊ)
1.  the fibres of hemp, flax, jute, etc, in the scutched state
2.  synthetic fibres preparatory to spinning
3.  the coarser fibres discarded after combing
[Old English tōw; related to Old Saxon tou, Old Norse tuft of wool, Dutch touwen to spin]

tower (ˈtaʊə)
1.  a tall, usually square or circular structure, sometimes part of a larger building and usually built for a specific purpose: a church tower; a control tower
2.  a place of defence or retreat
3.  a mobile structure used in medieval warfare to attack a castle, etc
4.  tower of strength a person who gives support, comfort, etc
5.  (intr) to be or rise like a tower; loom
[C12: from Old French tur, from Latin turris, from Greek]

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

"pull with a rope," O.E. togian "to drag, pull," from P.Gmc. *tugojanan (cf. O.E. teon "to draw," O.Fris. togia "to pull about," O.N. toga, O.H.G. zogon, Ger. ziehen "to draw, pull, drag"), from PIE base *deuk- "to pull, draw" (cf. L. ducere "to lead;" see duke). The noun meaning
"act or fact of being towed" is recorded from 1622. Towaway, in ref. to parking zones, is recorded from 1956.

"coarse, broken fibers of flax, hemp, etc.," late 14c., probably from O.E. tow- "spinning" (in towlic "fit for spinning"), perhaps cognate with Gothic taujan "to do, make," M.Du. touwen "to knit, weave." Tow-head, in ref. to tousled blond hair, is recorded from 1830.

O.E. torr, from L. turris "high structure" (cf. O.Fr. tor, 11c.; Sp., It. torre "tower"), possibly from a pre-I.E. Mediterranean language. Also borrowed separately 13c. as tour, from O.Fr. tur. The modern spelling first recorded in 1520s. Meaning "lofty pile or mass" is recorded from mid-14c. The verb
is attested from c.1400.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Bible Dictionary

Tow definition

(Judg. 16:9). See FLAX.

Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary
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American Heritage
Idioms & Phrases


In addition to the idiom beginning with tower, also see ivory tower

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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Example sentences
In theory, the new material could be placed into a tower in a building adjacent
  to a power plant, he said.
But the conference will also ponder a number of questions about the ivory tower
Moody's, a credit-rating agency, recently moved into the office tower.
The triangular tower of light is easiest to spot around the spring and fall
Idioms & Phrases
Images for tower
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