Victor aardvark66 at GMAIL.COM
Tue Jan 13 15:52:10 UTC 2009

I have a tendency to be anal when it comes to certain kinds of analysis.
When it comes to searches, I try to be exhaustive. So, when I came
across an unfamiliar form of a familiar expression, I chose to dive in.
The expression was simply too jarring for a [non-native] American ear
and I was curious.

In a Telegraph daily English soccer gossip bulletin (emailed), you can
find [no link],
-The Mirror, too, is full of possible *too-ings and fro-ings*.
Manchester City have supposedly tried to bring Inter Milan striker
Adriano to Eastlands in a swap deal with his compatriot Jo.

I thought, at first, this was a one-off, but quickly discovered
otherwise. This is what started the goose chase.

Although Google shows 95000 raw hits for "too-ing", most are unrelated
(and easily explicable). Still, there are quite a few. More precise
"too-ing-and-fro-ing" gets 2660 raw hits (also 3790 raw for
"tooing-and-froing", with nontrivial overlap). Of those where
identification is possible, nearly all are of Australian or British
origin, which explains my unfamiliarity with the expression (I was
familiar with the base "to and fro"). I may have come across the
specific expression before, but hadn't notice it.

The phrase came up as a question on Yahoo Answers, but in a slightly
different form (see more below):

-What about Tooing and frowing? Do you know?
[Answer] -I'm always tooing and frowing between moods as I'm very fickle.

Also, in WordReferenceForum:

Could you help me to translate this sentence into french :
"But the French Prime Minister Francois Fillon put it down to the usual
tooing-and-froing of politics"

It popped up in an [English] blog, along with a few other standards:

_Too-ing & Fro-ing with Soulja Boy_
Whew what a week!! this is no holiday i have been busier this past week
than i think i have ever been. I have been *too-ing and fro-ing* all
week, *ones doing this anothers do something else* and the others are
doing something else again, whilst i have been trying to sort out the
house and their messy bedroom.
...The kids all screamed like mad *you would of thought* they were at a
concert when they got in.

[would-of(f) and could-of(f) are old favorites of mine, but not relevant
to this post]

[slight detour follows] Interestingly, "tooing-and-frowing" earned
another 799 hits, including this one, where "Frowing" earns a separate

What does "tooing and frowing" mean? And why these words cannot be found
in any dictionary (at least in those I looked at?) Is it a corruption of
"to and fro?"
Is "frowing" a word and could it be used separately and if so would it
mean differently than that of the phrase?

Three of the four comments treat it as a "misspelling". The last one
jokes that it's a "poetic license".

I thought, I'd search for "frowing" and it gives a surprising 17700
hits, with only a handful representing proper nouns (of those, mostly
surnames). There is a fair number of "frowing up", which I did not
investigate too closely. Some look weird to me.

_Frowing on Stringancies_
The Torah forbids us to marry sisters. The Torah says Jacob married
sisters. The Torah says that Jacob followed the laws of the Torah. How
can this be resolved?

In some cases, it's just typo from "growing" (g->f on QWERTY) or
"frowning" (w->0). For example "Songs for Frowing kids" has already been
corrected. These are also fairly easily interpretable in context.

But the th->f conversion appears to be deliberate, although I am not
sure if this is always a mistake or an occasional attempt at humor. Is
this yet another effect of txting?

Another bizarre one:

English: frowing
Swedish: rynka på pannan

Oddly enough, another site also claimed to have given a Swedish
translation, but it turned out to be blank. There are also a claimed
Japanese and Chinese translations, although I have no capacity to judge
the accuracy.
< >

"Froing" also gave me the first clearly US hit, although the author
turned out to be ... British!

_To-ing and Fro-wing Buffalo - Niagra Falls_
I am heading to Buffalo from Hamilton on a pretty tight schedule to
attend a concert at Ashbury Hall on 29th Nov.

[back to the original topic] This also reminded me to check
"to-ing-and-fro-ing", which resulted in 94400 hits--much more than my
original search.

MWOL got a hit (backtracking to 1847, even including the plural, "toings
and froings"), as did

Another dictionary listed it as "uncountable" and gave a German
translation: "Hin und Her", also clearly marking it as a Britishism.
< and fro-ing>
< and fro-ing>

Although better represented, this version also appears to be mostly
Australian and UK.

There are three general connotations that I could devise:

1. commuting (or equivalent--going back-and-forth in a more general sense)
2. thrashing about (e.g., mulling over an idea)
3. hesitating (unsure of decision)

Yet another version was "to-and-froing" with a variety of actual
spellings. I tried "to-and-fro-ing" for 1640 raw hits. The variations
included "to and fro-ing", "to-and-fro'ing", "to and fro'ing", "to-and
fro-ing", "to-and-fro-ing" and "to and fro ing".

-This lasted 250 years until the area was ceded to the Russians by the
Ottoman Empire following the Russo-Turkish War (1828–1829), and
recovered and again ceded at the conclusion of the Russo-Turkish War of
1877-78. This *to and fro-ing* from Russia to Turkey continued with the
Treaties of Brest-Litovsk, Moscow, and Kars.

-Amid all the *to-and-fro'ing* on Techmeme about Twitter and its lack of
a business model comes a post from Jason “Mahalo” Calacanis, in which he
tells us the secret to building a business model in Silicon Valley.

-This involved a lot of work and *to and fro'ing* between Win32 and BeOS
to check I didn't inadvertantly break anything but I'm happy now it's done.

-As a result, today we need a new fillip of conviction and a lot of
*to-and fro-ing* before we can persuade the speakers of these African
languages of the dignity and scientific value of their own languages,
let alone carrying out research, creative activities, government, etc.;
in short, experiencing every linguistic phenomenon in, through and with
African languages.

-By *to and fro ing* between the preview pdf and screen text I can now
just about get everything right, but the screen text then looks off.
Crude, but I can't see any other solution.

Each of these occurred in multiple instances, so they were not
accidental. There was also some evidence of divergence between "to-and
fro-ing" and "to- and fro-ing", with the latter making more sense, but
occurring less frequently. Finally, "to-and-frowing" got another 5290
raw hits, both with and without hyphenation, including yet another offer
of a German translation..

-If we pass our present cosmic examination to continue aboard planet
Earth in Universe, the *to-and-froing* of humanity will increase
rapidly. The motion patterns of humanity, as also mentioned earlier, are
pulsating between ever more widely convergent and divergent
*to-and-froing*. [From R. Buckmister Fuller's Critical Path]

-There is a certain cultural to and froing.

-to and froing
Hin- und Herrennen {n}

I make no futher claims about the semantics of any of these expressions.

The American Dialect Society -

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