Why are tantrums "thrown" and not "burst"?



Instead, a person with entitlement complex is similar to a small child who never learned that he or she is not the center of the universe. They throw tantrums when outsiders don’t meet their demands.

You can fly into a rage or have a fit of rage, but you don't “throw” a rage. You can be bursting with anger and lose your temper, people also say or do something in a fit of temper but they don't throw it.

  • So why do young children (and adults) “throw” temper tantrums?
    Why is ‘throw‘ used to mean an uncontrolled outburst of anger and frustration (EOD)?

Mari-Lou A

Posted 2017-10-01T13:42:26.570

Reputation: 19 962

3I would conjecture that it is related to the meaning 'to produce, to bring forth' which we find with "the potter threw a bowl" and "the rabbit threw a litter". throw a fit predates throw a tantrum. – Tᴚoɯɐuo – 2017-10-01T13:58:40.010

It's an idiom and English has thousands. Why do we say to break out laughing? – Lambie – 2017-10-01T20:07:29.907

@Lambie I'm not so sure that "throw a tantrum" is an idiom, is "losing your patience" also an idiom? I'd consider "throw in the towel" to be a true idiom, you need to understand the meaning behind the phrase itself. A tantrum in "throw a tantrum" has a clear specific meaning, it does not symbolise anything else. – Mari-Lou A – 2017-10-01T20:14:41.827

Yes, lose one's patience is also an idiom. Often, verbs that go with nouns don't always have a clear explanation. The explanation is lost over time. FYI, we also say: throw a fit. Though not: throw a fit of rage. There is also: fly into a tantrum, in fact. – Lambie – 2017-10-01T21:01:41.357

Also, you can say: he burst into a tantrum. It would be perfectly acceptable. But not: he burst a tantrum. – Lambie – 2017-10-01T21:34:48.123

@Lambie by all means collect your comments and make it into one fine answer. I'd upvote it. – Mari-Lou A – 2017-10-01T21:36:32.683



Tantrum is an odd word. First recorded in 1715, with no obvious source. It was probably unrecorded slang before that.

Throw also has a twisted history. As þrawan it first meant "turn, curl or twist" (Hence to "throw a pot" means to make it on a turning wheel"). The Old English word for "propel through the air" was related to "warp", that was replaced by "cast" which was then largely replaced by "throw" (from the notion of whirling something around in a sling).

Another word "throwe" meant "pangs of pain" (we still use "In the throes of childbirth" for example) - probably some sort of combination of þrawan (twist, throw) and þrowian (suffer).

A sudden pain was, in Middle English called a "fit". And the concepts of "throe/throw" and "fit" came to be used together. As a tantrum is a type of fit, the idiom "throw a fit" transferred over to "throw a tantrum".

Sources from http://etymonline.com

James K

Posted 2017-10-01T13:42:26.570

Reputation: 80 781

Gosh! I had forgotten to accept your answer. Please forgive my absent mindedness. – Mari-Lou A – 2017-10-20T19:47:34.967