Where does the phrase “to throw in the towel” come from and What does it mean?

The phrase “to throw in the towel” means: To say uncle; to holler quits; to admit defeat; to surrender, submit, or yield.

In today’s pugilistic encounters one is more likely to hear that the manager of one contestant throws in a towel, rather than a sponge, but the original occasion for the expression, which still stands in a non-physical sense, is explained in The Slang Dictionary.

Though first published in 1860, the 1874 edition in my possession reads: “‘To throw up the sponge,’ to submit, to give over the struggle, from the practice of throwing up the sponge used to cleanse a combatant’s face at a prize-fight, as a signal that the side on which that particular sponge has been used has had enough, that the sponge is no longer required.”

where does the phrase to throw in the towel come from and what does it mean
About Karen Hill

Karen Hill is a freelance writer, editor, and columnist for zippyfacts.com. Born in New York, she loves interesting random facts from all over the world.