\ ˌtü-ən-ˈfrō How to pronounce to-and-fro (audio) \

Definition of to-and-fro

 (Entry 1 of 3)

: activity involving alternating movement in opposite directions the busy to-and-fro of the holiday shoppers



Definition of to-and-fro (Entry 2 of 3)

: forward and backward

to and fro


Definition of to and fro (Entry 3 of 3)

: from one place to another

Examples of to-and-fro in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web: Adverb That grief appears in oscillations—to and fro, in and out, up and down—but these oscillations come farther and farther apart as time goes on. Katherine Harmon Courage, Scientific American, 7 July 2021 But behind one unassuming door—while locals and visitors alike hurried to and fro on the street, pelted by the heat wave-breaking downpour—the most electrifying party in town would soon be in full swing. Darryn King, Forbes, 6 July 2021 But those who come to body surf, float on inner tubes and frolic in the water as 3-foot waves toss them to and fro probably won't need the extra warmth this weekend. Tim Harlow, Star Tribune, 1 June 2021 Hong Kong and Singapore announced a travel bubble between the two cities—allowing passengers to fly to and fro without undergoing quarantine—will launch on May 26. Eamon Barrett, Fortune, 27 Apr. 2021 During this promenade à deux, both scorpions face one another, pincers interlocked, and tango to and fro across the savanna, occasionally even interlocking mouthparts in a sort of scorpion kiss. Bradley Allf, Smithsonian Magazine, 1 Mar. 2021 His wheelchair rocked to and fro, sometimes threatening to ram into the building. New York Times, 18 Jan. 2021 Both films are in black and white, and both are chronologically restless, dancing to and fro from year to year. Anthony Lane, The New Yorker, 13 Nov. 2020 The specter of the coronavirus adds a layer of irony to the idea of funeral directors shuttling groups of senior citizens to and fro, but worry not. Annie White, Car and Driver, 27 Oct. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'to-and-fro.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of to-and-fro


1553, in the meaning defined above


1749, in the meaning defined above


14th century, in the meaning defined above

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Time Traveler for to-and-fro

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The first known use of to-and-fro was in the 14th century

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Dictionary Entries Near to-and-fro


to all intents and purposes



to and fro


to a polish

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Cite this Entry

“To-and-fro.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Jul. 2021.

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