"throw the towel in"

Hector   Tuesday, October 19, 2004, 08:03 GMT
Hi everyone!

I just came across a problem. having encountered this expression in two songs:

Write a poison letter
Burn the place down
Let's make it better

[Mesh "Firefly"]

So THROW THE TOWEL IN, if you must
Give up hope and give up trust
And I promise you'll drift backwards standing still

[Assemblage 23 "Complacent"]

None of the dictionaries managed to make it clearer.

I suspect that "throwing the towel" must mean something special, not just literally throwing.

Please, help :) Thanks in advance.
Easterner   Tuesday, October 19, 2004, 08:10 GMT
It means "to give up completely", as it can be seen from the context in both songs. I guess the expression takes its origin from boxing, but I'm not sure.
Josef   Tuesday, October 19, 2004, 10:08 GMT
right, it's a tradition in boxing for a corner to literally throw a towel into the ring to signify giving up.
Hector   Wednesday, October 20, 2004, 07:14 GMT
Oh, thanks guys :)