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throw (thrō)
v. threw (thr), thrown (thrōn), throw·ing, throws
1. To propel through the air with a motion of the hand or arm.
2. To propel or discharge into the air by any means: a machine that throws tennis balls; ash that was thrown by an erupting volcano.
3. To cause to move with great force or speed; propel or displace: threw themselves on the food; jetsam that had been thrown up onto the shore.
a. To force (an opponent) to the ground or floor, as in wrestling or the martial arts.
b. To cause to fall off: The horse threw its rider.
5. Informal To cause confusion or perplexity in; disconcert or nonplus: We didn't let our worries throw us.
6. To put on or off hastily or carelessly: throw on a jacket.
a. To put suddenly or forcefully into a given condition, position, or activity: threw him into a fit of laughter; threw some supper together; threw her leg over the arm of the chair.
b. To devote, apply, or direct: threw all their resources into the new endeavor; threw the blame onto the others.
8. To form on a potter's wheel: throw a vase.
9. To twist (fibers) into thread.
10. Games
a. To roll (dice).
b. To roll (a particular combination) with dice.
c. To discard or play (a card).
11. To send forth; project: She threw me a look of encouragement.
12. To cause (one's voice) to seem to come from a source other than oneself.
13. To cause to fall on or over something; cast: The rising sun threw shadows across the lawn. We threw sheets over the furniture before we painted the ceiling.
14. To bear (young). Used of cows or horses, for example.
15. To arrange or give (a party, for example).
16. To move (a lever or switch) in order to activate, deactivate, or control a device.
17. Informal To lose or give up (a contest, for example) purposely.
18. To abandon oneself to; have: heard the news and threw a fit.
19. To commit (oneself), especially for leniency or support: threw himself on the mercy of the court.
20. To deliver (a punch), as in boxing: threw a left hook.
To cast, fling, or hurl something.
1. The act or an instance of throwing.
2. The distance to which something is or can be thrown: a stone's throw away.
3. Games
a. A roll or cast of dice.
b. The combination of numbers so obtained.
4. Informal A single chance, venture, or instance: "could afford up to forty-five bucks a throw to wax sentimental over their heritage" (John Simon).
5. Sports The act of throwing or a technique used to throw an opponent in wrestling or the martial arts.
a. A light blanket or coverlet, such as an afghan.
b. A scarf or shawl.
a. The radius of a circle described by a crank, cam, or similar machine part.
b. The maximum displacement of a machine part moved by another part, such as a crank or cam.
8. Geology The amount of vertical displacement of a fault.
Phrasal Verbs:
throw away
1. To get rid of as useless: threw away yesterday's newspaper.Games To discard: threw away two aces.
2. To fail to take advantage of: threw away a chance to make a fortune. To waste or use in a foolish way: threw away her inheritance.
3. To utter or perform in an offhand, seemingly careless way: The play's villain throws away the news that the house has burned down.
throw back
1. To hinder the progress of; check: The troops were thrown back.
2. To revert to an earlier type or stage in one's past.
3. To cause to depend; make reliant.
throw in
1. To insert or introduce into the course of something: threw in a few snide comments while they conversed.
2. To add (an extra thing or amount) with no additional charge.
3. To engage (a clutch, for example).
throw off
1. To cast out; rid oneself of: threw off all unpleasant memories.
2. To give off; emit: exhaust pipes throwing off fumes.
3. To distract, divert, or mislead: Crossing the stream, he threw the tracking dogs off. A wrong measurement threw her estimate off.
4. To do, finish, or accomplish in a casual or offhand way; toss off: threw off a quick response to the letter.
throw open
To make more accessible, especially suddenly or dramatically: threw open the nomination.
throw out
1. To give off; emit: searchlights throwing out powerful beams.
2. To reject or discard: The committee threw out her proposal.
3. To get rid of as useless: threw out the garbage.
4. Informal To offer, as a suggestion or plan: They sat around throwing out names of people they might want to invite to the party.
5. To force to leave a place or position, especially in an abrupt or unexpected manner: The convicted judge was thrown out of office. The headwaiter threw the disorderly guest out.
6. To disengage (a clutch, for example). To put out of alignment: threw my back out.
7. Baseball To put out (a base runner) by throwing the ball to the player guarding the base to which the base runner is moving.
throw over
1. To overturn: threw the cart over.
2. To abandon: threw over her boyfriend of four years; threw over the company they themselves had founded.
3. To reject.
throw up
1. To vomit.
2. To abandon; relinquish: She threw up her campaign for mayor.
3. To construct hurriedly: shoddy houses that were thrown up in a few months.
4. To refer to something repeatedly: She threw up his past to him whenever they argued.
5. To project, play, or otherwise display (a slide, video, or other recorded image): threw the video of vacation highlights up on the screen.
throw cold water on
To express misgivings about or disapproval of; discourage.
throw in the towel/sponge
To admit defeat; give up.
throw oneself at
To make efforts to attract the interest or affection of (another).
throw (one's) weight around Slang
To use power or authority, especially in an excessive or heavy-handed way.
throw (someone) a bone
To provide (someone) with a usually small part of what has been requested, especially in an attempt to placate or mollify.
throw the baby out with the bath water Slang
To discard something valuable along with something not desired, usually unintentionally.
throw up (one's) hands
To indicate or express utter hopelessness: He threw up his hands and abandoned the argument.

[Middle English throwen, to turn, twist, hurl, from Old English thrāwan; see terə-1 in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]

thrower n.

Synonyms: throw, cast, hurl, fling, pitch2, toss
These verbs mean to propel something through the air with a motion of the hand or arm. Throw is the least specific: throwing a ball; threw the life preserver to the struggling swimmer. Cast usually refers to throwing something light, often in discarding it: "She cast the unpleasant, pricking garments from her" (Kate Chopin).
Hurl and fling mean to throw with great force: "Him the Almighty Power / Hurl'd headlong flaming from th' Ethereal Sky" (John Milton)."He flung the magazine across the room, knocking a picture frame from the bookcase and surprising himself with this sudden burst of anger" (Yiyun Li).
Pitch often means to throw with careful aim: "He pitched the canteen to the man behind him" (Cormac McCarthy).
Toss usually means to throw lightly or casually: "Campton tossed the card away" (Edith Wharton).

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2022 by HarperCollins Publishers. All rights reserved.

Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices

    Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:

    Indo-European Roots

    Semitic Roots

    The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.