Definition of to and fro in English:

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to and fro

Pronunciation: /ˌto͞o ən ˈfrō/


In a constant movement backward and forward or from side to side: she cradled him, rocking him to and fro
More example sentences
  • What is dramatised is not only the margin, but also the movement to and fro, the passage, or transition between reality and representation.
  • All I Wanna Do Is Rock edges its way out of the speakers, the wind blowing the sound to and fro, Fran Healy's voice the only constant as the guitars shift in and out of auditory focus.
  • Travelling to and fro at high speeds in a vehicle that weighs close to a ton is, after all, a risky venture.


[no object] (be toing and froing)
1Move constantly backward and forward: the ducks were toing and froing
More example sentences
  • Hence the constant toing and froing between kitchen and the garden where the treasured bottle was laid on the ground as gently as a new born babe in its first crib.
  • Phil, what have you been able to gather about what's going on in terms of the diplomatic toing and froing here?
  • It was all the toing and froing, the whole situation with Phil going to get shot.
1.1Repeatedly discuss or think about something without making any progress.
Example sentences
  • It seems there is no good reason, except that we have had backwards-and-forwards toing and froing between parties.
  • In the course of this toing and froing, McLean infamously declared that he would not sell to Thompson ‘until hell froze over’.
  • When the US authorities have got down to some serious war planning, the toing and froing about which military option might be best betrays the same indecision and lack of clarity of purpose.


[in singular]
1Constant movement backward and forward: Wilkie watched the to and fro of their dancing
More example sentences
  • The most basic thing about play is the to and fro of constantly repeated movement.
  • In other words, human cultural creations need to arise from absorption in the play of nature so that we and our creativity are in harmony with the to and fro of nature's play.
  • Soon he became bored, watching the to and fro of this tireless woman.
1.1Constant change in action, attitude, or focus.
Example sentences
  • Thinking in terms of the usual to and fro, Joe Duffy's team dredged up a couple of callers willing to feel a vague sympathy for Burke.
  • My concern is that in the to and fro of debate, the language cements what then become accepted norms.
  • There is the sense that role is not understood on an abstract level of narrative, but in the to and fro of relations that are always open to transformation and the passage of affect and emotion.


Middle English: from Old Norse frá (see from).

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: to and fro

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