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 confusedthroe throw

Synonyms for throe Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for throes

agony, turmoil, anguish, pang, struggle, ache, disorder, spasm

Examples from the Web for throes

Contemporary Examples of throes

Historical Examples of throes

  • There were throes of love within her, of aspiration, of an ineffable delight in being.

    Tiverton Tales

    Alice Brown

  • And everywhere was the shouting and hurry as of a nation in the throes of war.

    Two Thousand Miles Below

    Charles Willard Diffin

  • The time when the Moors were in the throes of civil war was favorable.

    A Short History of Spain

    Mary Platt Parmele

  • She covered her face, and rocked to and fro like one in the throes of a deep suffering.

    Tony Butler

    Charles James Lever

  • The throes of Russian resurrection will be long and painful.

British Dictionary definitions for throes


pl n

a condition of violent pangs, pain, or convulsionsdeath throes
in the throes of struggling with great effort witha country in the throes of revolution



rare a pang or pain

Word Origin for throe

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

Word Origin and History for throes



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

Idioms and Phrases with throes


see in the throes.

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