Writing for Business

Jun 25 2012   12:06PM GMT

Are you in the throws of despair over misspelled words?

Ivy Wigmore Ivy Wigmore Profile: Ivy Wigmore

Which is correct?
The telecom industry is always in the _____ of transition and now is no exception, with IPv6 and cloud computing changing the landscape.
a. throws
b. throes

Answer: b

Throes are violent and convulsive pains, either real or metaphorical. Throws are tosses or little blankets.

“Throes” is often misspelled as “throws,” especially online. Quite frequently, the error appears in a cry for help from a confused individual wondering what “death throws,” “throws of despair,” “throws of childbirth” or “throws of passion” are. Well, who wouldn’t be curious?

Word Detective has a nice entry for throes. Here’s an excerpt:
“Throe,” which is almost always used in the plural (“When a nation is in the throes of revolution, wild spirits are abroad in the storm,” 1856), may hark back to the same Old English “thrawan” root as “throw,” carrying the original sense of “twist, turn” into its modern meaning of “writhe in pain.” But some etymologists trace “throe” to the Old English “thrawu,” meaning “pain,” “pang” or “evil.”

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