Throwing Back: Definition, Meaning, and Origin

Last Updated on
October 13, 2023

The phrase "throwing back" can mean different things depending on how it's used. It is commonly used when reflecting on or revisiting past events, memories, or experiences. It can mean tossing something to return it, like throwing a ball back to someone who tossed it to you. It can also mean to fling or jerk something in a backward direction. Imagine pulling a fishing rod back quickly to cast the line far into the water; that's another way of "throwing back." Lastly, the phrase can also mean to obstruct or slow down progress.

In short:

  • To reminisce about the past or reliving past experiences.
  • To toss something in order to return it.
  • To cast, fling, or jerk something backward.
  • To obstruct, hinder, or delay the progress of someone or something.

What Does "Throwing Back" Mean?

The phrase "throwing back" can have multiple meanings depending on the context in which it's used. In a social setting, "throwing back" means reminiscing about past events, memories, or experiences. This is commonly seen on social media platforms where people post old photos or memories with the hashtag #ThrowbackThursday or #TBT.

  • It can mean tossing or throwing something back to where it came from.
  • It can also mean to quickly or forcefully send something backward.
  • It can mean to slow down someone or something or to make it harder for them to progress.

Where Does "Throwing Back" Come From?

The word "throwing" has its origins in the early Middle English term "throwen," which comes from the Old English word "þrāwan," meaning "to turn or twist." The meaning of "throwing" expanded to include propelling something through the air, which is how we understand the term today. Similarly, the word "back" originates from the Old English "bæc," which is derived from the Proto-Germanic "*bakam." It has always referred to the rear side or the opposite of the front, aligning with its current usage. Therefore, "throwing back" describes sending something back or in the opposite direction.

Historical Example

'Then your death rest on your own head,' fiercely exclaimed the Signor Guido Albano, throwing back his mantle and drawing his sword, at the same time whistling shrilly.

- The Two Midshipmen. A tale of the sea, 1863

10 Examples of "Throwing Back" in Sentences

Here are ten examples that illustrate the diverse usage of the idiom "throwing back" in different contexts:

  • She spent the evening throwing back old memories with her childhood friends; it's amazing how time flies.
  • On Thursdays, people enjoy throwing back by posting old photos on social media with the hashtag #ThrowbackThursday.
  • As he glared at the photo album that looked good on the front cover, he couldn't help but throwback to that summer vacation.
  • The committee is throwing back the proposal for further revisions, delaying its implementation.
  • The fisherman was practicing catch and release, so after catching a small trout, he ended up throwing it back into the river.
  • He kept throwing back excuses for his procrastination, blaming it on a busy schedule.
  • During the reunion, they couldn't stop throwing back stories about when they bunked class in college and other adventures.
  • After finding his old skateboard, he spent the afternoon throwing back to his skating days when he was still enthusiastic about stepping out of his comfort zone.
  • She couldn't resist throwing back a witty remark when her friend teased her about her past crush.
  • By throwing back to their shared history and exchanging lame jokes, they strengthened their bond as siblings.

Examples of "Throwing Back" in Pop Culture

This idiom has made appearances in various forms of popular culture, from movies to music and literature:

  • features an article where the phrase is used: "You see that old lady throwing back the beers in the corner?"
  • UC Santa Barbara News mentions, "Throwing back to the '80s and '90s for the 2021 iteration of its ... Movies Under the Stars in Your Cars."
  • In "The Dangers of Nostalgia" by Roger Sale, published in The New York Review of Books, there's a line: "They laughed often, throwing back their heads to put some muscle in their pleasure.
  • Vox explores the music industry's business strategy and asks, "Is music always sort of throwing back?"

Synonyms: Other Ways to Say "Throwing Back"

If you want to express a similar idea but wish to vary your language, consider using these synonyms:

  • Revisiting: Exploring something from the past again.
  • Nostalgizing: Indulging in nostalgia or recalling fond memories.
  • Reflecting: Thinking back on past experiences or thoughts.
  • Recapturing: Capturing the essence of a past moment or feeling.
  • Rekindling: Reawakening a past emotion or relationship.

10 Frequently Asked Questions About "Throwing Back"

  • What is the origin of the idiom "throwing back"?

The origin of the idiom "throwing back" is not definitively known, but it has historical usage in literature dating back to the 19th century.

  • Are there regional variations in the usage of "throwing back"?

The idiom "throwing back" is commonly used in English-speaking regions and is understood similarly across various English dialects.

  • Can "throwing back" be used in a positive context?

Yes, "throwing back" can be used positively when reliving joyful memories or celebrating past achievements.

  • Is there a difference between "throwing back" and "nostalgia"?

"Throwing back" typically involves actively revisiting or reliving past experiences, while "nostalgia" is a more general sense of longing or sentimentality for the past.

  • How can I use "throwing back" in everyday conversation?

You can use "throwing back" when discussing memories, habits, or experiences from the past. For example, "We were throwing back old stories from our college days.

  • Is "throwing back" considered informal language?

Yes, "throwing back" is often used in casual conversations and may be less appropriate in formal or academic writing.

  • Can you "throw back" to future events?

No, "throwing back" typically refers to revisiting or reliving past events or experiences, not future ones.

  • Are there similar idioms in other languages?

Many languages have idioms related to nostalgia or reminiscing, but the specific expressions can vary widely.

  • Has "throwing back" evolved in its usage?

Yes, like many idiomatic expressions, "throwing back" may evolve and adapt to contemporary language and culture.

  • What are some common misconceptions about "throwing back"?

One common misconception is that "throwing back" always involves negative reminiscing, but it can also be a joyful celebration of the past.

Final Thoughts About "Throwing Back"

This term originates from the physical act of throwing something backward, which evolved into a metaphorical expression for revisiting the past. This phrase is versatile and can be used in various contexts such as personal reminiscence, social media trends (like Throwback Thursday), and nostalgic marketing campaigns, where it denotes reference to past times or events.

Let's summarize the key takeaways:

  • The idiom "throwing back" encapsulates revisiting memories, behaviors, and experiences.
  • It can have multiple meanings, from reliving joyful moments to repeating past actions.
  • It can also mean rejecting or refusing something. This is generally used when an idea, proposal, or suggestion is not accepted or is dismissed.

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