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Since You Asked: Tow to toe

Being a Seattle native, I am aware of the towing company with the "Pink Toe Truck" — the tow truck shaped like a pink toe — but why are blonde haired people referred as "towheaded"?

— Tracy V., Eagle Point

That's one of those great words that we hear as kids and it sets our minds to fanciful attempts at defining it by context. Were their heads shaped like toes? And sights like the "toe truck" only tweaked our cortices even more.

"Towheaded" comes from "tow," which is the Old English word for the coarse fibers of hemp or flax before spinning, according to our Webster's New World College Dictionary.

And to get specific, a "towhead" means a head of pale yellow hair, or a person with said color of hair. And for what it's worth, a "towhead" can be blonde or blond.

Oh, and you there writing that follow-up question about the idiomatic expression meaning "to conform to a rule or standard"? It's "toe the line."

Send questions to "Since You Asked," Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by e-mail to youasked@mailtribune.com.