Category: 

What is a Toe Head?

A toe-headed, or tow-headed, girl.
Toe-headed boy.
Article Details
  • Written By: Michael Pollick
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 14 August 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2014
    Conjecture Corporation
  • Print this Article
Free Widgets for your Site/Blog
You can tell how old a male lion is by the darkness of his mane—the darker the mane, the older the lion.  more...

September 17 ,  1916 :  The <em>Red Baron</em> shot down his   more...

Certain fibrous plants such as flax or hemp can be woven into cloth, but only after the fibers have been painstakingly combed out and twisted into a usable thread. Part of the combing process yields a tousled mass of light yellow fiber known as tow, although many people mistakenly render it as toe. Because these pale and tangled fibers resemble fine blond human hair, the term toe head or tow head is often applied to natural blondes, especially young children.

This term should not be considered an insult, since it strictly refers to the flaxen quality of a person's hair. A young, fair-haired boy might be distinguishable from a sibling because of his hair color, so others may describe him as a toe head. Sometimes, the unruly quality of a young blond's hair may also earn him the honor of the nickname.

Many people envy the light tones and curliness of a true toe head's hair. Very young boys with exceptionally light and curly hair are often compared favorably to cherubs, angelic beings often portrayed in religious art as fair-haired and innocent. While some children's hair color may darken over time, a few do retain the qualities into adulthood.

Ad

The word "tow" is Germanic in origin, and refers to the fibers often used to create burlap sacks for crop collection and storage. In fact, some people who live in rural communities still refer to burlap bags as tow sacks. Tow sacks made from flax or hemp did have a distinctly yellow or tan appearance, although not always as blond as the expression implies.

Other shades of blond could be dishwater, "dirty," or platinum. A person with jet black hair could be described as raven-haired. Some redheads are considered "carrot tops" or flame-haired. Some sources suggest the description toe head has largely fallen out of common use in recent years, but it can still be heard in more rural regions of the country.

Ad

More from Wisegeek

You might also Like

Discuss this Article

anon344028
Post 10

I always thought 'towhead' meant people whose hair is only blonde as a child, but darkens as they mature. For example, I and my brother were platinum-blonde towheads and now have dark brown hair, my father was a towhead and his hair grew black before turning salt and pepper.

Why else would the word only be used to describe blonde children? Have you ever called an adult 'towheaded'?

anon173352
Post 9

Tow head just means having light hair the color of flax or hemp fibers. Obviously only the old folks seem to know about those old fibers and their color. It is like describing someone as flaxen haired. Same difference.

Personally I don't believe anyone who says their blond hair is the same color as when they were a child. Everyone's hair darkens with age.

anon147309
Post 6

I am 25 years old and I have extremely light blonde, curly locks. My picture was actually placed in the hospital that I was born in for "baby born with blondest hair" and it hasn't really darkened very much.

My grandparents have called me a tow head since I was just little. It is not an insult. It just means that I have blonde hair. I am proud to be a tow head. We are a dying race.

anon122304
Post 5

having blonde hair. watched it on full house.

anon115140
Post 4

I never heard of this until I heard it on full house.

So I'm like does that mean someone who got kicked around a lot in the head?

AZgirl32
Post 2

I had not heard of the term until the other day when my friend’s grandmother called her a tow head. I thought she was referring to the size and shape of my friend’s head, but it doesn’t look weird or anything.

So my friend was born with and still has blonde hair, that must be what her grandma was talking about. I don’t think she would call her grandkid anything disrespectful; although, she did get a laugh at the confused looks on our faces.

anon34253
Post 1

In Modern Street vernacular "Toe Head" [insult]

means someone having a head with the dimensions of a Big Toe (fat Head ) example : Fred Flintstone was a "Toe Head". Some implication of stupidity and/or stubbornness is also attached to this description.

Sentence :

Keith said "I can't stand Dick Cheney,

what a Toe Head"!

Not to be confused with "Tow Head".

Street Definition by

GrimJerr

Post your comments

Post Anonymously

Login

username
password
forgot password?

Register

username
password
confirm
email