Etymology
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toe (v.)

"touch or reach with the toes," 1813, from toe (n.). First recorded in expression toe the mark, which seems to be nautical in origin.

The chief mate ... marked a line on the deck, brought the two boys up to it, making them "toe the mark." [Richard H. Dana, "Two Years Before the Mast," 1840]

Related: Toed; toeing.

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toe (n.)

Old English ta "toe" (plural tan), contraction of *tahe (Mercian tahæ), from Proto-Germanic *taihwō(n) (source also of Old Norse ta, Old Frisian tane, Middle Dutch te, Dutch teen (perhaps originally a plural), Old High German zecha, German Zehe "toe"). Perhaps originally meaning "fingers" as well (many PIE languages still use one word to mean both fingers and toes), and thus from PIE root *deik- "to show."

Þo stode hii I-armed fram heued to þe ton. [Robert of Gloucester, "Chronicle," c. 1300]

The old plural survived regionally into Middle English as tan, ton. To be on (one's) toes "alert, eager" is recorded from 1921. To step on (someone's) toes in the figurative sense "give offense" is from late 14c. Toe-hold "support for the toe of a boot in climbing" is from 1880.

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two (adj., n.)

"1 more than one, the number which is one more than one; a symbol representing this number;" Old English twa "two," fem. and neuter form of twegen "two" (see twain), from Proto-Germanic *twa (source also of Old Saxon and Old Frisian twene, twa, Old Norse tveir, tvau, Dutch twee, Old High German zwene, zwo, German zwei, Gothic twai), from PIE *duwo, variant of root *dwo- "two."

Two-fisted is from 1774. Two cheers for _____, expressing qualified enthusiasm first recorded 1951 in E.M. Forster's title "Two Cheers for Democracy." Two-dimensional is recorded from 1883; figurative sense of "lacking substance or depth" is attested from 1934.

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two bits (n.)

"quarter dollar," 1730, in reference to the Mexican real, a large coin that was divided into eight bits; see bit (n.1). Compare piece of eight (under piece (n.1)). Two bits thus would have equaled a quarter of the coin. Hence two-bit (adj.) "cheap, tawdry," first recorded 1929.

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two-faced (adj.)
also two faced, "deceitful," 1610s; see two + face (n.).
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two-time (v.)
"to deceive, cheat, betray," 1924, perhaps from notion of "to have two at a time." An earlier reference (1922) in a Kentucky criminal case involves a double-cross or betrayal without a romance angle. Related: two-timing (adj.); two-timer.
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two-step (n.)

dance style, 1893, from two + step (n.); so called for the time signature of the music (as distinguished from the three-step waltz). But as the positions taken by the dancers involved direct contact, it was highly scandalous in its day and enormously popular.

A certain Division of an Auxiliary gave a dance not long since. I went and looked on. What did they dance? Two-step, two-step and two-step. How did they dance? When we used to waltz, we clasped arms easily, took a nice, respectable position, and danced in a poetry of motion. Now, girls, how do you two-step? In nine cases out of ten the dear girl reposes her head on the young man's shoulder, or else their faces press each other. He presses her to his breast as closely as possible, and actually carries her around. Disgraceful? I should say so. Do you wonder at the ministers preaching on dancing as a sin, when it looks like this to a woman like myself who believes in dancing and has danced all her life? Mothers, as you love your girls, forbid them to dance after this manner. [letter in the ladies' section of Locomotive Engineers' Monthly Journal, March 1898]
To the Two Step may be accredited, serious injury to the Waltz, awkward and immodest positions assumed in round dancing, also as being a prominent factor in overcrowding the profession and causing a general depression in the business of the legitimate Master of Dancing. [The Director, March 1898]
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tick-tack-toe (n.)

children's three-in-a-row game with Xs and Os, so called by 1892, earlier tit-tat-toe (by 1852, in reminiscences of earlier years), also called noughts and crosses (1852), also oughts and crosses. Probably from the sound of the pencil on the slate with which it originally was played by schoolboys. Also the name of a children's counting rhyme played on slate (also originally tit-tat-toe, by 1842), and compare tick-tack (1580s), a form of backgammon, possibly from French trictrac, perhaps imitative of the sound of tiles on the board.

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toenail (n.)
also toe-nail, 1690s, from toe (n.) + nail (n.).
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dactyl (n.)

metrical foot, late 14c., from Latin dactylus, from Greek daktylos, a unit of measure (a finger-breadth), also "a fruit of the date tree, a date," literally "finger" (also "toe"), a word of unknown origin. The metrical use (a long syllable followed by two short ones) is by analogy with the three joints of a finger. In English versification it refers to an accented syllable followed by two unaccented. The "date" sense also sometimes was used in early Modern English.

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