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Is it best to use "throw away" or "throw in" for an expression when you ask someone not to throw something, like "Don't throw them away/in/out (the rubbish bin)." Specifically, if one doesn't know where it's going to be thrown, they could be given to charity or someone else instead.

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up vote 3 down vote accepted

Use "throw away" if you don't know where it's going to be thrown. "Throw out" is also common, though not as much. "Get rid of" is the most common, for if you're willing to throw out the idea of "throw".

"Throw in" always means to give up - cf. the common expression "throw in the towel". Don't use it to mean "throw away", unless you want to refer to a specific container to throw the thing in, in which case you would say "don't throw it in the garbage bin".

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...and "throw up" is just disgusting. Please don't use it. – Daniel Jun 27 '11 at 14:12
I disagree that "throw in" always means to give up. You can throw your trash in a trash can, for example, or in sentence form matching avilella's question, "Don't throw them in the rubbish bin". A subtle difference might be that when you throw something in a rubbish bin, you could still pull it out, but when something's been thrown away or out, it is more likely to be irretrievable. – Ben Hocking Jun 27 '11 at 15:39
@Ben: Yes, you are right. I had only considered it per se, without an object. – Daniel Jun 27 '11 at 15:40
@Ben: you're not distinguishing the phrasal verb "throw in" which has meanings including "give as a free bonus on a deal" and "give up" from the verb "throw" used with a prepositional phrase including "in". But the phrasal verb does not mean "discard as rubbish". – Colin Fine Jun 28 '11 at 14:35
@Colin Fine: I wasn't intending to make any such distinction. Instead, I was pointing out that in avilella's question, he used the sentence form "Don't throw them [in] (the rubbish bin)". In that particular form, in is valid. He did not specify how the verb should be delineated. – Ben Hocking Jun 28 '11 at 14:43

Throw away or throw out are pretty much synonymous, meaning 'get rid of'; either would do here. You could also say Don't bin them to emphasize the possibility of getting rid of them usefully. But throw in means 'give up', coming either from boxing where the second throws the towel into the ring to give up the fight, or from card-playing, as when a poker-player throws his cards into the middle of the table to indicate that he folds (there may be other roots, but the meaning is always similar)

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The phrases throw out, throw away, and throw in the bin all carry the meaning to put in the trash. Therefore if you told me don't throw that away, I might still give it away to charity. You might instead want something like:

Please don't get rid of that.

Please hang on to that (for me)

These indicate that you want the person to maintain possession of the item, not just to avoid trashing it.

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"Throw in the bin" is highly uncommon. I wouldn't use it, for fear of having to explain myself. – Daniel Jun 27 '11 at 14:17
@drm65, I would not say it is highly uncommon, but it is comparatively uncommon; which I would assume is to be expected since the phrase is much more specific. I would use it when I want the specific meaning (but in the form "throw that/it in the bin"). – Unreason Jun 27 '11 at 14:53
@drm65 - While not being a native speaker of British English, friends who are use "throw it in the bin" fairly frequently. It is out of place in AmEng, but since the speaker specifically referred to "the rubbish bin" which itself is uncommon in AmEng, I took that to mean he was likely using a UK variant. – Dusty Jun 27 '11 at 14:53
@drm65: The normal usage is throw [something] in the bin. But that something might be anything, so NGram won't show that many hits for any specific word (though I found quite a few for "it" and "them"). – FumbleFingers Jun 27 '11 at 15:28

I grew up in the South and when someone told you to throw something out it was always pertaining to food that was to be "thrown out" the back door so the critters could eat it. If it was trash and meant to be tossed into the trashcan it was to be "thrown away." When a friend of mine came down from Buffalo he handed me a piece of trash and told me to throw it out and I was understandably concerned about his instructions.

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