violent pains and movements at the moment of death
Two Example Dialogues Using ‘Death Throes’
📖: Caitlin cradled John in his death throes, weeping as he writhed through those last few moments of agony.
😔: We ran to Fluffy, but it was too late. The car had hit him hard, and all we could do was to hold him and comfort him as he passed through his death throes.
🥺: How awful! I know how much you loved that dog.
Examples of ‘Death Throes’ from the News
“The real bullfights began that afternoon. In front of the Hemingway crew, a bull gored a horse, which took a death-throes run through the arena, trailing its intestines. At another point, a bull tried to escape by jumping over the wall surrounding the ring. ‘Perhaps he felt that it wasn’t his party,’ Loeb said. He became increasingly dismayed by the spectacle; he even ‘considered oléing the bulls that refused to charge,’ he recalled. ‘It seemed, in some obscure way, shameful.'”
– Lesley M.M. Blume, “The True Story of the Booze, Bullfights, and Brawls That Inspired Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises”, 12 May 2016
“‘I want you to act. I want you to act as you would in a crisis. I want you to act as if the house is on fire, because it is.’ Thunberg was urging those in charge to stop pretending that they could continue with business as usual while the planet began to enter the violent death throes of man-made climate collapse.”
– Matthew Field, “Our home is on fire and it’s time to panic”, 2 September 2019
Special Notes on the Term ‘Death Throes’
‘Death throes’ can be used in this literal sense, but as we see in the final example from the news, it can also be used very effectively in a figurative sense.
You can talk about the death throes of the Roman Empire, which would be the final years of the empire’s decline before falling completely.
You can talk about being in the final throes of economic collapse, meaning that you are living in the final moments of a failing economy.
You can warn that we must do something before we find ourselves in the throes of a dying democracy. In this case, you would be warning people to do something before democracy is destroyed.
Or you could talk about the death throes of a failing marriage, which would be the final weeks or months when a couple tries to make it work before they finally end their marriage.
In all of these cases, this incredibly expressive term gives a sense of anguish, and panic, and even violence. The word ‘throes’ is thought to be related to the Old English words for ‘calamity’ and ‘suffer’. When you talk about something’s death throes, you are talking about a dramatic end, and it’s usually not one that you’re happy about.
Pronunciation of ‘Death Throes’
Each word of the day only focuses on one definition. To learn every possible definition of the word, I recommend that you look it up in your favorite dictionary.