main navigation
my pace
English Language Institute Blog

3 Idioms About Towels

May 25 is Towel Day.

To celebrate, we’d like to share with you three fun English idioms about towels.


#1 Towel off (v)

To towel off idiomThis means to dry yourself or someone else or something with a towel.

  • The swimmer got out of the pool and toweled off.
  • I toweled off my wet feet before putting my socks on.
  • We washed the car and toweled it off.

#2 Throw in the towel (v)

to throw in the towel idiomIf you throw in the towel, you stop trying to do something, because you know that you cannot succeed.

  • Klara's support, when even her son's trainers wanted to throw in the towel, was essential.

Note: You can also say that someone throws in the sponge, though this is less common.


#3 Crying towel (n)

crying towel idiomThis is a figurative towel (not an actual towel) used to wipe away someone's tears; this idiom is always used sarcastically to imply that the person's problems or complaints are not real or are exaggerated.

  • Oh, you have to pay a bit more in taxes because you're now making$100,000 more per year? Shall I get out a crying towel for you?
  • So you didn't make the first team? Get out the crying towel.

It can also mean a person who listens to and/or offers sympathy for someone's troubles, complaints, or grief (it has a negative meaning).

  • I'm getting a little tired of being Charlie's crying towel every time he breaks up with some new boyfriend.

Note: This is not a very common idiom.


Do you want to learn more idioms? At the ELI at Pace University in New York City, we have lots of fun elective courses, including IDIOMS.

For more information about the ELI, you can visit the ELI website, contact the ELI or apply here.