\ 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 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, "For Constipated Scorpions, Females Suffer Reproductively. Males, Not So Much.," 1 Mar. 2021 His wheelchair rocked to and fro, sometimes threatening to ram into the building. New York Times, "He Climbed 800 Feet in a Wheelchair. Hong Kong Watched in Awe.," 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, "“Mank” and the Making of “Citizen Kane”," 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, "Seniors: Your Local Funeral Home May Give You a Ride to the Polls," 27 Oct. 2020 There’s no narrative, just the actors — who play themselves — moving to and fro, trading off their sometimes lyrical meditations. Maya Phillips, New York Times, "Two New York Neighborhoods Set the Stage for Decadence and Loss," 21 Oct. 2020 Special low-loading trailers carry the parts to and fro across the channel. J. A. Maxtone Graham, Popular Mechanics, "You, Too, Can Break the Sound Barrier," 24 Sep. 2020 Strangest of all are the rigs carrying new cars to and fro. Richard Brookhiser, National Review, "One Gate to the City," 17 Sep. 2020 Perhaps 50 boats drifted to and fro in the choppy water for around an hour. John Pana, cleveland, "Boats parade Lake Erie to show support for President Trump (photos)," 7 Aug. 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 Time Traveler

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

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Cite this Entry

“To-and-fro.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 9 Mar. 2021.

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