In the heat of the moment, it’s perfectly understandable that you would default to the most familiar way to spell something. You don’t get that squiggly red line in your web browser and your phone’s autocorrect isn’t automatically correcting it, so it has to be right, right? Not always, and that’s how I came to learn that I should be writing it as in the throes of passion and not the throws. These are not decorative pillows.

This is the same kind of scenario as when you talk about something that jibes with you (and not jives or gibes with you). Or when you’ve got hunger pangs (and not hunger pains). English is weird, I know.

So, first, here is a brief definition. If a couple of people are “in the throes of passion,” the author is likely implying that these two people are, let’s say, engaging in intimate relations. I think you catch my drift. You can decide how many shades of gray are involved. But the word “throes” can take on a few different contexts too.

If someone is in the throes of something, it means that they are currently experiencing something painful (particularly emotionally) or otherwise unpleasant or difficult. Even difficulty aside, being in the throes of something means that you are in the thick of things, that you are deeply involved in whatever it is that you are doing. Like when you’re in the throes of passion. You’re, um, totally in there.

But how did this term come to be and why can’t we spell it “throws” like a normal person? From what I can gather, it’s derived from “death throes,” which refers to the violent, uncontrolled movements that someone might make when they are on the verge of dying. Perhaps they’re in great pain and they’re on the edge of the final release… which is likely how it got tied up into throes of passion.

In this way, it really has nothing to do with throwing anything, at least not necessarily. While “throes of passion” is perhaps the most common usage today, you might also encounter the throes of illness, the throes of the election, the throes of divorce, or really almost anything else. It just means you’re intensely involved in that thing and you may be coming up to the end.