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[throh] /θroʊ/
a violent spasm or pang; paroxysm.
a sharp attack of emotion.
  1. any violent convulsion or struggle:
    the throes of battle.
  2. the agony of death.
  3. the pains of childbirth.
Origin of throe
1150-1200; Middle English throwe, alteration of thrawe (-o- from Old English thrōwian to suffer, be in pain), Old English thrawu; cognate with Old Norse thrā (in līkthrā leprosy)
Can be confused
throe, throw.
3a. upheaval, tumult, chaos, turmoil. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for throe
Historical Examples
  • “You will not throe me off my guard thus,” said Henry, sternly.

  • Every throe of the sick girl seemed to penetrate her own body.

  • Nothing in his life, no throe of passion or gratification, had been like this.

    Cytherea Joseph Hergesheimer
  • Something surged in him like the throe of the river where the ship went in.

    The Cup of Fury Rupert Hughes
  • She was startled by the throe of pitiful regret that seized her.

    Shadows of Flames Amelie Rives
  • She experienced a throe of such scorn for Loring as sickened her.

    Shadows of Flames Amelie Rives
  • He felt, with a throe of helpless sympathy, that she was undertaking too much.

    Fennel and Rue William Dean Howells
  • A pang of exquisite suffering—a throe of true despair—rent and heaved my heart.

    Jane Eyre Charlotte Bronte
  • The sea moaned—more than moaned—among the boulders below the ruins, a throe of its tide being timed to regular intervals.

    The Well-Beloved Thomas Hardy
  • Sneak had hastily brought thither his effects, and without a throe of regret abandoned his house for ever to the owls.

    Wild Western Scenes John Beauchamp Jones
British Dictionary definitions for throe


(rare) a pang or pain
Word Origin
Old English thrāwu threat; related to Old High German drawa threat, Old Norse thrā desire, thrauka to endure
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for throe

c.1200, throwe "pain, pang of childbirth, agony of death," possibly from Old English þrawan "twist, turn, writhe" (see throw), or altered from Old English þrea (genitive þrawe) "affliction, pang, evil, threat" (related to þrowian "to suffer"), from Proto-Germanic *thrawo (cf. Middle High German dro "threat," German drohen "to threaten"). Modern spelling first recorded 1610s. Related: Throes.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Idioms and Phrases with throe


The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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