Word Confusion: Throe versus Throw

Posted December 15, 2016 by Kathy Davie in Author Resources, Editing, Self-Editing, Word Confusions, Writing

I had actually started a post on “Threw versus Through” when another possible confusion came up: throe when I read about a character in the throws of pain.

I couldn’t go through with it, though. The rhythm was off for a threw, throe, through; it simply didn’t fit. I was so reluctant to give up this three-fer…I was in the throes of agony…especially since I had created this really great Pinterest pin, but I felt like such a lazy weasel, hence throe getting its very own post, right along with throw.

You’re likely to be more familiar with throe as throes. I was surprised to see that it worked as a singular or plural noun. While someone being in the throes of… probably involves throwing oneself about, it doesn’t really convey that sense of pain.

Word Confusions…

…started as my way of dealing with a professional frustration with properly spelled words that were out of context in manuscripts I was editing as well as books I was reviewing. It evolved into a sharing of information with y’all. I’m hoping you’ll share with us words that have been a bête noir for you from either end.

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Throe Throw
Credit to: Apple Dictionary.com; Free Dictionary: throe

A black-and-white drawing of a woman in a bed covered by a blanketa

“Birth Scene, Holland, 17th Century” courtesy of Wellcome Images [CC BY 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

A 17th century Dutch woman in the throes of childbirth.

Animated sequence by Eadweard Muybridge (1830-1904) of himself throwing a disk.

“Eadweard Muybridge 2” is Jorgebarrios’ own work and is in the public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

A great video of throwing.

Part of Grammar:
Plural Noun: throes
Verb, intransitive & transitive

Plural for the noun and third person present verb: throws
Past tense: threw
Past participle: thrown
Gerund or present participle: throwing

[Rare] A violent spasm or pang

  • Paroxysm

A sharp attack of emotion

Plural Noun:
Any violent convulsion or struggle

The agony of death

The pains of childbirth

A tool for splitting wood into shingles

  • A frow
An act of throwing something

  • An act of throwing one’s opponent in wrestling, judo, or similar sport

A light cover for furniture

  • Short for throw rug

Short for roll of the dice

[Geology] The extent of vertical displacement between the two sides of a fault

[Usually in singular] The action or motion, or the extent of such motion, of a slide valve, crank, eccentric wheel, or cam

  • The distance moved by the pointer of an instrument

[A throw; informal] Used to indicate how much a single item, turn, or attempt costs

Verb, intransitive:
To cast, fling, or hurl a missile or the like.

Verb, transitive:
Propel something with force through the air by a movement of the arm and hand

  • Push or force someone or something violently and suddenly into a particular physical position or state
  • Put in place or erect quickly
  • Move a part of the body quickly or suddenly in a particular direction
  • Project or cast light or shadow in a particular direction
  • Deliver a punch
  • Direct a particular kind of look or facial expression
  • Project one’s voice so that it appears to come from someone or something else, as in ventriloquism
  • [Throw something off/on] Put on or take off a garment hastily
  • Move a switch or lever so as to operate a device
  • [Game] Roll dice
  • Obtain a specified number by rolling dice
  • [Informal] Lose a race or contest intentionally, especially in return for a bribe

Cause to enter suddenly a particular state or condition

  • Put someone in a particular place or state, especially in a rough, abrupt, or summary fashion
  • Disconcert
  • Confuse
  • [Informal] To baffle or astonish

Send one’s opponent to the ground in wrestling, judo, or similar activity

  • [Of a horse] Unseat its rider
  • [Of a horse] Lose a shoe
  • [Of an animal] Give birth to young, of a specified kind

Form ceramic ware on a potter’s wheel

  • Turn wood or other material on a lathe
  • Twist silk or other fabrics into thread or yarn

Have a fit or tantrum

Give or hold a party

A sudden throe shuddered down his body.

One could only hope that Jack would suffer a throe of conscience.

If we’re to make those shingles, we’ll need a throe.

Plural Noun:
Janice’s death throes threw her children.

It was a country in the throes of revolution.

A friend was in the throes of a painful divorce.

It’s amazing how quickly the throes of childbirth are forgotten by the mothers.

He died in the throes of battle.

Jeter’s throw to first base was too late.

He’s susceptible to those shoulder throws.

You should see the cute new throws I got for the living room.

Shake those throw rugs out good.

That sure was a lousy throw of the dice.

“The direction and magnitude of heave and throw can be measured only by finding common intersection points on either side of the fault” (Fault (geology)).

Install a compressor in the single throw twins to vent the crankcase.

“Well-constructed square knots with flat throws have less likelihood of slipping” (Boston University School of Medicine).

He was offering to draw on-the-spot portraits at $25 a throw.

Verb, intransitive:
She’ll only throw up again, sick and weak (Your Dictionary).

Verb, transitive:
I’m worried about some of the questions on the test. I just know they’ll throw me.

He wants to throw a brick through the window.

A uniformed guard will throw open the door and enter the room with you.

The stewards will have to throw a cordon across the fairway.

Then she should throw back her head back and laugh.

I want a chandelier that will throw a bright light over the walls.

But can you throw a punch?

She threw a withering glance at him.

Can Jamie throw his voice and make them think someone is coming in from the other side of the room?

I am not answering that door until I throw a housecoat on!

Throw the lever, Peter, and turn the machine off.

If he can throw a seven, he’ll win big!

I heard a rumor that the jockey is going to throw the race.

I don’t know why she stays with him. He throws her up against the wall whenever he’s drunk.

It’ll throw the bond market into confusion.

Throw the bums in jail.

Kevin knew he could throw her if he changed tack.

Jokester always throws Mary at the last fence.

Careful on those stones, Charity may throw a shoe.

I hope Ol’ Maggie throws a black calf again.

I want to learn how to throw pots.

Johnny will you throw a wooden bowl for me?

Gabby will throw another fit.

Hank and Edna are going to throw a party next week.

Adjective: throwable
Noun: upthrow
Verb: misthrow, misthrew, misthrown, misthrowing
Phrasal Verb
throw money around
throw oneself at
throw oneself on
throw oneself upon
throw someone out
throw someone over
throw something away
throw something in
throw oneself into
throw people together
throw something off
throw something open
throw something out
throw something together
throw something up
throw up
History of the Word:
Middle English throwe is the singular and is perhaps related to the Old English thrēa or thrawu meaning calamity, which is influenced by thrōwian meaning suffer. 1 Old English thrāwan meaning to twist, turn and related to the Dutch draaien and German drehen, from an Indo-European root shared by the Latin terere meaning to rub, the Greek teirein meaning wear out.

2 Sense 1 of the verb, expressing propulsion and sudden action, dates from Middle English.

C’mon, get it out of your system, bitch, whine, moan…which words are your pet peeves? Also, please note that I try to be as accurate as I can, but mistakes happen or I miss something. Email me if you find errors, so I can fix them…and we’ll all benefit!

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Pinterest Photo Credits:

“Etna Volcano Paroxysmal Eruption”, July 30, 2011, by gnuckx under the CC BY 2.0license, via Wikimedia Commons.