\ 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

Her mother reached up and patted her, pushing her to and fro, until Jo, delighted, tumbled down on top of her. National Geographic, "Jane Goodall’s original tale of chimpanzees still astonishes today," 17 Apr. 2019 By Joseph Epstein Lyons, 187 pages, $24.95 Within more or less discrete chapters, Mr. Epstein proceeds seamlessly to and fro, demonstrating—through example and instruction—who and what is charming and, equally important, who and what isn’t. Thomas Vinciguerra, WSJ, "‘Charm’ Review: The Most Pleasing Personality," 11 Oct. 2018 The broad treads hugged the sand, pivoting the robot to and fro at Hyneman’s whim. Kevin Dupzyk, Popular Mechanics, "The Tank That's Tougher Than Wildfire," 13 Nov. 2018 The largest sack is perfect for hauling laundry to and fro; the smaller sizes can hold a lunchtime picnic or a change of clothes for a dip in a hot spring. Megan Barber, Curbed, "The ultimate van life shopping guide," 14 Nov. 2018 To celebrate her collaboration with jewelry line John Hardy, Chelsea’s Cedar Lake was transformed into a Balinese market complete with spice stands, straw fans, and tuk-tuk rickshaws transporting guests to and fro. Janelle Okwodu, Vogue, "Adwoa Aboah and John Hardy Bring Bali to New York to Celebrate Their New Collaboration," 10 Oct. 2018 Saturday Source: NOAA Clara Phillips, who lives in the Brices Creek area of New Bern, sat on her screened-in back porch on Friday, watching as the wind pushed trees to and fro. Valerie Bauerlein, WSJ, "Florence Drenches North Carolina, Leaving Five Dead and Causing Widespread Outages," 14 Sep. 2018 In this fantastical ode to the United States Postal Service, Berger posits that before email, actual snails were responsible for transporting physical letters to and fro. Julia Turner, New York Times, "A New Technology Age: When the Technology Is Books, and the Age Is 3 to 7," 18 May 2018 Staffers in crisp white uniforms and white pointed chef’s caps dart to and fro. Hilary Cadigan, Bon Appetit, "In a Land of Tortilla Factories, Enrique Olvera’s New Tortilleria Is Doing It Old School," 20 June 2018

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

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

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Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with to-and-fro

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an act or instance of editing or removing

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