In the Last Throes
An amusing egg-corn that has just appeared on my radar is that of writing in the throes of as “in the throws of.”
A protagonist in the throws of madness
Plaster cast of a Pompeii resident in the throws of death
Iraq is in the last throws of insurgency…
AMD in final death throws?
… in the throws of the epidemic
Question: Why do cockroaches die on their backs?
Answer: Because in the throws of death, they often tip or topple over…
Although both words may derive from the same Old English word, þrawan “to twist, turn writhe,” they’ve been used with distinctly different meanings long enough to make the mix-up amusing. (Throe may derive instead from O.E. þrowian “to suffer.”)
The OED offers these definitions:
A violent spasm or pang, such as convulses the body, limbs, or face. Also, a spasm of feeling; a paroxysm; agony of mind; anguish.
The pain and struggle of childbirth; pl. labour-pangs.
The agony of death; the death-struggle, death-throe.
A violent convulsion or struggle preceding or accompanying the ‘bringing forth’ of something.
To confuse the issue, there’s a blog called “In the Throws of Resistance,” and a song called “In the Throws of a Moral Quandary.” There’s also a villainous group (Marvel Comics) called “the Death-Throws.” Their name is a pun on death throes. They’re jugglers. The things they throw cause death, hence, “death throws.”
Take care next time you want to express the idea of intense suffering or passion. Throes in the sense of violent feeling is too good a word to throw away.
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