Tim Bowen tosses around some more ideas to add to the Your English collection.

The verb toss normally means ‘to throw something gently or in a slightly careless way’. It is used to form a number of phrasal verbs and, in some of these, it can be replaced by the verb throw with more or less the same meaning.

If an idea is tossed around, it is discussed, often in an informal way, as in ‘We tossed some thoughts around for a while’.

If you toss something aside, you stop accepting it or believing in it, as in ‘We have tossed aside the notion of America as a land of freedom’.

To toss away has the same meaning as throw away but also suggests that the action is performed carelessly, as in ‘He opened a window and tossed the cigarette away’.

To toss back means to drink something quickly, especially alcohol, as in ‘He’s been tossing back beers all day’. In this sense it can be replaced by knock back.

If you toss for something, you make a decision based on which side of a coin lands face up after it has been tossed into the air, as in ‘We decide to toss for it’. The verb toss up has the same meaning, as in ‘Let’s toss up to decide who drives’.

Toss-up can also be a noun and is used for saying that you do not know which of two things to choose or which of two things will happen, as in ‘It’s a toss-up between going to India or China’ or ‘It’s a toss-up between Brazil and Spain for the World Cup this year’.