Toe the Line!

boxing gloves- old fashionedI wondered about the origin of the phrase “toe the line”, which is used as a boxing term in the movie “Far and Away”, so I looked it up.




prize fighters toeing the line1 The phrase has a long and storied origin, beginning in the early 1800’s, it was used in prize fighting where “The scratch was the line marked across the ring in early ‘toe-to-toe’ boxing bouts.”



sailing ship of 1800sIt was also used in the Navy when sailors were to be punished. They would have to “prepare themselves for group punishment by standing in formation on deck and ‘toeing the line’ between boards – also called ‘toeing the crack’.”

For other usages of this colorful phrase, check out:



5 thoughts on “Toe the Line!

  1. It’s appaling how many people use “tow the line”  It’s mostly online that I see this Mary

    Sent via the Samsung GALAXY S® 5, an AT&T 4G LTE smartphone


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