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From Middle English throwe, perhaps from Old English þrēa, þrōwian (suffer).



throe (plural throes)

  1. A pang, spasm.
  2. (usually in the plural) A hard struggle.
    • 2019 August 14, A. A. Dowd, “Good Boys puts a tween spin on the R-rated teen comedy, to mostly funny effect”, in The A.V. Club[1]:
      Of the group, Max (Room’s Jacob Tremblay) is the most nominally mature, at least biologically speaking; unlike his childhood companions, he’s entered the early throes of puberty, and spends a lot of his waking hours pining, rather chastely, for a classmate (Millie Davis).
  3. A tool for splitting wood into shingles; a frow.


Derived terms[edit]



throe (third-person singular simple present throes, present participle throeing, simple past and past participle throed)

  1. (transitive) To put in agony.
    • 1610, The Tempest, by Shakespeare, act 2 scene 1
      Sebastian:      Prithee, say on:
      The setting of thine eye and cheek proclaim
      A matter from thee, and a birth, indeed
      Which throes thee much to yield.
  2. (intransitive) To struggle in extreme pain; to be in agony; to agonize.


Part or all of this entry has been imported from the 1913 edition of Webster’s Dictionary, which is now free of copyright and hence in the public domain. The imported definitions may be significantly out of date, and any more recent senses may be completely missing.
(See the entry for throe in
Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, G. & C. Merriam, 1913.)