Submitted by goossun on October 12, 2007

Frowing

What does “tooing and frowing” mean? And why these words cannot be found in any dictionary (at least in those I looked at?) Is it a corruption of “to and fro?” Is “frowing” a word and could it be used separately and if so would it mean differently than that of the phrase?

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I agree. It is a misspelling of to-ing and fro-ing. They are being cute making it a verb. English: the language that is never finished. See also "hither and yon"

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say what?

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poetic license

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To and fro means back and forth or side to side (fro is an obsolete version of from). E.g., "We were swaying to and fro as the boat bobbed in the waves." To-ing and fro-ing is just a colloquial variation, used like: "Hey kids, stop all that to-ing and fro-ing. You're making me dizzy." As for tooing and frowing, it's pretty obvious that it's just an incorrect, (or, if you're feeling generous, "alternate"), spelling.

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The English Cambridge online dictionary backs up the M-W. I also suspect that 'tooing' and 'frowing' is a mis-spelling of 'to-ing' and 'fro-ing'.

http://dictionary.cambridge.org/define.asp?dict...

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I've never come across the word 'frowing' before... it is possibly incorrect since it cannot be found in any dictionary. M-W has an entry for the phrase "to-ing and fro-ing":
http://www.m-w.com/dictionary/to-ing+and+fro-ing

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