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What's the difference between "throw out/away," "toss out," and "pitch (out/away)" to mean, "get rid of as worthless or unnecessary"? Can these be used just about interchangeably?

THROW AWAY

Also, throw out or toss out. Dispose of, discard, as in This coat is too good to throw away, or Did you throw out the rest of the milk? or She tossed out all his old letters. [First half of 1500s]

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer

TOSS/TOSS OUT

toss

To get rid of : throw away

Merriam-Webster

toss out

(US) To put (something that is no longer useful or wanted) in a trash can, garbage can, etc. : to throw (something) out It's time to toss out those bananas. Did you toss the newspapers out already?

Merriam-Webster

PITCH, PITCH OUT, and PITCH AWAY

pitch

[+ object] : to throw or toss (something)

Passersby on the street pitched coins into her open guitar case as she played.

They were pitching horseshoes.

She pitched the empty box into the garbage.

Merriam-Webster Learners Dictionary

To discard by throwing: pitched my worn-out sneakers.

The American Heritage® Dictionary

To put aside or discard by or as if by throwing pitched the trash into the bin

Merriam-Webster

pitch something out

To throw something away; to discard something. This cottage cheese is so old, I'm going to pitch it out. They pitched out the bad food.

McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs

pitch something away

To toss or throw something away. He pitched the broken stick away, and looked around for something stronger. He pitched away the stick.

McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs

  • Number of questions asked about AE (American English): 50. Questions asked about AmEng: 45 Total questions asked about American English: 95 I think we should be coming to you for advice. – Mari-Lou A Mar 20 '16 at 18:44
  • @Mari-LouA it's a good idea, Mari-Lou. I'll have to take it under advisement. ;-) – Elian Mar 20 '16 at 19:46
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    As a life-long US resident, I would say that "throw away" and "throw out" are interchangeable.  "Toss out" might be a bit less likely to be used in the figurative sense; i.e., I would use it only in the literal sense of throwing something out a window (or throwing a person out through the door).  If I heard "pitch away" or "pitch out" in a non-sports context, I might say "Huh?"  ("Pitch" in general, and "pitch out" in particular, have meanings that are specific to American baseball.)  YMMV – Scott Mar 20 '16 at 21:14
  • I am 58 years old. Originally from the Mid-West. I was often told to "pitch" things, especially rotten food and other things that were not needed anymore, since I was a child. I came to this link because some of the younger workers at the company I work for in California were unfamiliar with the usage and confused when it was used by a vendor they were talking to in the Mid-West, and I was trying to learn if it was regional usage... – Alger Feb 25 '17 at 0:03
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Speaking for myself, the terms have basically the same meaning. However "Toss out" is a bit wordy for casual conversation. You can simply say "toss". In that context others should understand you intend to dispose of the item. The word "pitch" tends to put an emphasis on the emotional component of the act of disposing of the item.

Toss is used when you simply wish to be rid of the item. Pitch tends to show more determination. As if you want to damage the item in the process of getting rid of it.

  • Yeah, "toss" is dismissive, while "pitch" usually implies some consideration. (And I can't say that I've ever heard "pitch away".) – Hot Licks Mar 24 '16 at 16:12
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I've never heard someone say 'pitch' in reference to putting something in the garbage. Most common would be "throw" "toss" or "chuck," eg "I chucked it out" or "Throw it in the trash." Tossing has the implication of a lighter touch, like an underhanded throw.

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