My Nana says my Mom was a tow-head. My Mom says my sister was a tow-head. And now my sister calls my adorable niece a tow-head.
We all know tow-head means a kiddo with light blonde hair, but have you ever wondered where does that expression come from?
Yeah, me too!
Well I discovered two options.
1. Tow comes from an old German word touw. Touw means flax or hemp fiber. The color of flax is very close to blonde, hence tow-head.
2. Back in the day, families grew their own flax to make their own clothing and ropes. The process of turning flax into thread was a tedious process. But since they were without malls and on-line shopping in Colonial days, what option did they have?
The flax would be harvested, and soaked in water for several days to soften it. Then the inner fibers would need to be removed from the stalk. (Whomever figured out how to make clothes from plants is seriously brilliant.) The flax would be pulled through a bed of nails or combed in a process called towing. The short fibers that were removed were called tow. People who had hair that resembled this tow were called tow-heads.
I think a brother started it, intending to insult his little sister, but eventually it became an endearing way to describe adorable little curly heades, blondies like my niece.
In case you are one of those truly curious people, here’s why most tow-heads end up with dark hair.