Confused by idioms? Don’t throw in the towel. Tim Bowen’s here to help.

‘After months of campaigning, his opponent has finally decided to throw in the towel’. This idiom, which has its origins in boxing, means to give up doing something because you know you cannot win or succeed.

People who throw their weight around use their authority to tell other people what to do in a rude and unpleasant way.

If you throw the book at someone, you punish them very severely, as in ‘The local authorities have warned people in the area that they will throw the book at anyone caught vandalizing war memorials’.

To throw money at something means to try to improve it by spending a lot of money on it, as in ‘Providing better education is not simply a matter of throwing money at it’. Throwing good money after bad is continuing to spend money on a business or project that is going to fail. In that situation, you are probably throwing your money down the drain (wasting it by spending it on something useless).

Perhaps it’s time to throw yourself into a new activity, meaning to start giving all your energy or attention to it, as in ‘After his girlfriend left him, he threw himself into his work’.

Make sure you don’t throw caution to the wind, however, as this would mean you have stopped being careful and are doing things you know are risky.

Whatever you do, don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. If you do so, you unintentionally get rid of all the positive and useful aspects of something while trying to get rid of its negative aspects.