Don’t be lightheaded: Toehead vs. towhead

A lot of writers get tripped up on this word’s spelling. Let’s see if we can wind up the string that acts as a tripwire.

When referring to a fair-haired, blond boy or blonde girl, towhead is correct. That’s because one of the lesser-known meanings of tow is a fiber made from flax, hemp or jute used to make thread. This tow is light-colored. Hence, someone with light-colored hair is a towhead.

Toehead, of course, makes no sense. Not all toes are light-colored, of course, depending on your race.


My name is Rob Bignell. I’m an affordable, professional editor who runs Inventing Reality Editing Service, which meets the manuscript needs of writers both new and published. I also offer a variety of self-publishing services. During the past decade, I’ve helped more than 300 novelists and nonfiction authors obtain their publishing dreams at reasonable prices. I’m also the author of the 7 Minutes a Day… writing guidebooks, four nonfiction hiking guidebook series, and the literary novel Windmill. Several of my short stories in the literary and science fiction genres also have been published.