Easily Confused Words: Throe vs. Throw

Throe and throw are easily confused words. They are also homophones, meaning they are pronounced identically, but they are spelled differently, and the possess different meanings.

The spell-check application of most word processing software programs would not catch a slip-up of these two words. Spell-check is looking for words that aren’t in its dictionary, and words that resemble words in its dictionary but are possibly spelled wrong. Spell-check isn’t perfect. It doesn’t know and can’t guess what word you wanted or what word you meant, it can only judge the words on the page. If you used words that are all spelled correctly, it gives you a pass anyway.

Autocorrect suggests words that start with the same letters. It’s suggesting what word you may want to save time, but quite often, its suggestions are pretty off base. They don’t help you out, but they do make you laugh.

Throe (pronounced “thr-oh”) is a noun. It means a spasm or contraction of muscle. The figurative sense, it means feeling an emotional pull of someone or something.

Throw (pronounced “thr-oh”) is a verb. It means to intentionally propel an object through the air using one’s arm or arms. A throw involves more speed, focus, and a greater distance than a simple toss. Baseball, basketball, and football are three sports than involve skilled throwing.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Theonia just couldn’t throw the ball very well at tonight’s softball game. Probably because she was distracted; she was still in the throes of love for Toby.

Meanwhile, he was sitting in the stands, paying too much attention to the new girl at school, Clarissa.


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