Throw in the towel is an idiomatic phrase, used when someone gives up and embraces defeat.
The expression originates from boxing, where fighters signal their wish to yield by throwing their towel in to the middle of the boxing ring.
The first documented case of “throw in the towel” emerged in a 1903 issue of the Sunday Times newspaper, referring to the possible resignation of a mayor.
The expression would gain popularity at the beginning of the 1920’s, with the phrase spreading rapidly along with boxing as a sport.
Following the 1940’s, “throw in the towel” became a colloquial expression, appearing in many different contexts related to defeat and surrender.
The expression was first defined on Urban Dictionary in 2004.
- Colabsports.com – Boxing Champions and When to Throw in the Towel