If this expression brings to mind a great heave-ho of a rope, you might be thinking about (and spelling) this expression incorrectly.
Reminder: The idiom meaning “to do what is expected” or “to follow the established rules” is correctly spelled “toe the line.”
It’s an expression that was once used at the start of a race, when runners were called to step into the ready position with their toes on the starting line. Imagine that moment after the stretches and warm up jogs, when racers are now instructed, “On your marks.”
By “toeing the line,” one would make sure to be in position and not to move past a defined mark. This can mean the starting line of a race, a company practice, or a political party doctrine. To toe the line means to be where you need to be, to act as you need to act, according to a pre-defined standard.
There’s no “towing” or “hauling” involved.
Of course, before you toe any line, I’d recommend thinking hard about whether it’s a line that makes sense for you, your career, and your sense of integrity. If it does, awesome, step up to the mark. If it doesn’t, maybe you should rethink the race before you.
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