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If I accidentally pushed a chair and it fell down on the floor (it is no longer in the upright position), can I say "I (have) dropped the chair" or I should use another verb for that?

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We don't usually drop chairs; we drop balls instead! – Jimi Oke Mar 28 '11 at 0:34
up vote 7 down vote accepted

There are several verbs you can use to describe the action that was performed:

  • tip over
  • push over
  • knock over
  • knock down
  • push down
  • capsize (metaphorically)
  • roll over
  • fell (archaic, usually used with trees or foes)

Drop would only be accurate if it was held up and it fell down (as opposed to being up*right* and falling over).

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Good round-up! “I knocked the chair over” seems to me the most natural here. Both tip over and push over, to my ear, suggest that it was deliberate unless stated otherwise (so with them you’d probably say “I accidentally pushed the chair over”, as @mplungjan suggests); whereas knock over has more connotation of being accidental by default. – PLL Mar 27 '11 at 16:45
@PLL: Agreed. Knocked over would be my phrasal verb of choice here. – Jimi Oke Mar 28 '11 at 0:35
@PLL glad to be of assistance :| I used pushed because that was the word of choice in the original question. Tipping a chair needs longer contact than pushing or knocking it over – mplungjan Mar 28 '11 at 8:24
capsize would earn you some confused stares, though everything else is accurate. – Neil Mar 28 '11 at 8:32
@Neil: I'm sure I'd only use the word "capsize" if my audience would understand. They wouldn't be confused at all. They might still stare though. :) – Mr. Shiny and New 安宇 Mar 28 '11 at 13:49

The problem with drop here is that it implies you were holding it up in the first place and your action/inaction led to its falling to the floor. If you were involved in knocking over something which was free-standing in the first place, you can't use drop in a meaningful way (unless you had already pushed it halfway and were holding it up to prevent it falling completely).

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No. A better statement is:

I (accidentally) pushed/knocked the chair over.

If you were carrying the chair from one end of the room to the other, and dropped it, you could use your statement.

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The normal way to express this is to use the expression tip over:

When I leaned over too far backwards, I tipped the chair over.

The chair has a shaky leg, so be careful you don't tip it over.

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You can only tip a chair if you sit on it or at least are in contact with it for a while. Tipping a chair is not something you can do just by bumping into it – mplungjan Mar 28 '11 at 8:25
I agree with @mplungjan. If you weren't already in solid contact, you would knock the chair over, not tip it over. – Brian Knoblauch Mar 28 '11 at 13:44

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