tow (v.) Look up tow at
"pull with a rope," Old English togian "to drag, pull," from Proto-Germanic *tugojanan (cognates: Old English teon "to draw," Old Frisian togia "to pull about," Old Norse toga, Old High German zogon, German ziehen "to draw, pull, drag"), from PIE root *deuk- "to pull, draw" (cognates: Latin ducere "to lead;" see duke (n.)). Related: Towed; towing.
tow (n.1) Look up tow at
"the coarse, broken fibers of flax, hemp, etc., separated from the finer parts," late 14c., probably from Old English tow- "spinning" (in towlic "fit for spinning," tow-hus "spinning-room"), perhaps cognate with Gothic taujan "to do, make," Middle Dutch touwen "to knit, weave," from Proto-Germanic *taw- "to manufacture" (see taw (v.)).
tow (n.2) Look up tow at
c. 1600, "rope used in towing," from tow (v.). Meaning "act or fact of being towed" is from 1620s.