Saturday, May 09, 2015
Jamie from Elk Rapids wrote to complain of a misspelling that she thinks is becoming annoyingly frequent. She keeps seeing the word throws written in place of throes, as in the throws of winter or the throws of passion. It’s not unusual that homophones get misused by the careless or inattentive, but it is, indeed, annoying.
Throe means intense or violent pain or struggle; throes is the plural form. It is the descendant of an Old English word that meant affliction, plague, or painful evil. In our day, it should be distinguished from throw, but ironically, in its long history it was sometimes spelled throwe, throw, or thraw.
Throw is a synonym for a toss, but at various times it has meant an act of twisting, a perverse temper, a needle deflection on a galvanometer, the rotary motion of a shaping machine, a cast at dice, the act of slamming a wrestling opponent to the mat, a piece of fabric placed on furniture to protect it, or a shawl.
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