Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

A stone's throw is described as approximately 20 to 25 feet.

Does it make sense to describe double that distance as "two stones throws away" or would I have to use some other unit?

See also this question.

share|improve this question
3  
If you measure the distance in throws, then the plural is, well, throws. Two stone throws. Three stone throws. Ten stone throws. I don't get the question. –  RegDwigнt Mar 12 '12 at 15:16
    
Stone's is sort of possessive in this instance, like "a hard night's work" –  Matt Эллен Mar 12 '12 at 15:19
6  
A "stone's throw" is an idiom meaning somewhat close. It is not an exact measurement. Unless you were trying to get a laugh, you would never refer to multiples of that measurement idiom. I could say I live a stone's throw from the next town, or that Chicago is just a stone's throw from Milwaukee. It is not meant to be taken literally. –  Robusto Mar 12 '12 at 15:24
3  
Your "definition" is just a silly literalism. Most people wouldn't dream of trying to specify exactly how far a stone's throw is, in order to quantify two or more times that distance. Too localised. –  FumbleFingers Mar 12 '12 at 15:26
add comment

4 Answers 4

up vote 0 down vote accepted

If you wanted to pluralise “a stone’s throw away”, then you could use “stones’ throws away”.

That is, if you were to throw a stone, walk to where it landed, then throw it again, you would have made two throws of stones, or two stones’ throws. By similar logic, you could also use “two stone-throws”, where one stone-throw is the distance covered by one throw of one stone.

It’s important to note that you can only do this for comedic or rhetorical effect. The original phrase is an idiom meaning nearby, so pluralising it makes exactly as little literal sense as pluralising nearby.

share|improve this answer
add comment

I think the answerer to the post you mention is just being slightly flippant. When somebody says that something is a "stone's throw away", they just mean that it's comparatively "very near". They don't have a particular number of feet in mind-- and indeed, if I say "the pub is a stone's throw from Jim's house" or "Preston is a stone's throw from Manchester", chances are that although it's comparatively "nearby", it's still further than you could actually throw a stone.

You could conceivably say e.g. "It's several stones' throw away", but I think without context the meaning would be more ambiguous (i.e. do you mean it's "just a bit further than very nearby" or do you mean it's "quite far away"?).

share|improve this answer
add comment

That wording would be folksy and appropriate in a certain kind of writing, but surely no one would read it to mean 40-50 feet away. So if it is important that someone reads it as being a particular length, you would need to find some new turn of phrase.

share|improve this answer
add comment

It's a prepositional phrase acting as an adjective (an adjectival phrase) meaning "quite near", and we don't pluralize adjectives in English. So, use different or more precise phraseology, or just stretch the meaning, e.g. "The moon is just a stone's throw from the Earth, compared to Mars."

share|improve this answer
    
Prepositional phrase (or postpositional, if that matters to your analysis)? –  Neil Coffey Mar 13 '12 at 3:02
    
@jwpat7: Thanks for the edits/corrections. –  Hexagon Tiling Mar 13 '12 at 23:38
add comment

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.