I've seen the phrase "sit the throne" in place of "sit on the throne." It's usually used in literary or poetic contexts, but it doeas appear to have "real" uses (right click any line to see combined usage), albeit not very many.

Is there any etymology or grammar underlying this usage, or is it merely an abbreviation of the "correct" structure?

(I tried Googling it, I really did, but all I got was a bunch of Bioshock Infinite spoilers.)

  • Looking at your Ngram, many results aren't really finding 'sit the throne' as a phrase, they are finding the words 'sit' and 'throne' in proximity to each other only, or instances where 'sit' belongs in a different sentence from 'the throne'. The examples which are a clear use of the phrase all seem to be a handful of recent fantasy novels, so perhaps an influential writer started the usage (a lot of fantasy writers give their characters slightly odd phrasing to make them sound courtly, or olde worlde). The earliest result in google books is Return from Legend by William N. Kyle in 2004.
    – Spagirl
    Aug 7, 2017 at 9:42

1 Answer 1


You are overthinking this. It is very common for verbs to have both transitive and intransitive senses. For instance,

  • I can run a race. (Transitive. That is, there is an object: "a race".)
  • I can run. (Intransitive. No object.)

Sit is the same. It has both transitive and intransitive senses.

  • I will sit myself down. (Transitive.)
  • I will sit on the chair. (Intransitive. Don't be confused by the "on the chair". That is not an object. It is a prepositional phrase.)

To sit a throne is just another transitive usage for sit. It happens to be a rare one.

  • 1
    I couldn't find this usage in Merriam-Webster, but maybe I missed it?
    – Kevin
    Aug 7, 2017 at 6:26
  • @Kevin, maybe you need a bigger dictionary, or maybe the usage is too rare for them to bother listing it. But it's close to "to keep one's seat on. E.g. sit a horse".
    – dangph
    Aug 7, 2017 at 6:51
  • 1
    If you could find this in a dictionary (and quote/attribute it), I would be a lot more inclined to accept your answer.
    – Kevin
    Aug 7, 2017 at 18:49
  • @Kevin, I think you misunderstand how dictionaries work. They just document the way that people use words. They are descriptive, not prescriptive. If a usage is very rare, the lexicographers might simply not have noticed it yet, or they might not consider it common enough to include in their dictionary, or they might just consider it an error (that is a gray area). Anyway, your question was about how the usage of transitive sit w.r.t. thrones arose. The answer is that someone or some people thought it was a good idea, so they started using it.
    – dangph
    Aug 8, 2017 at 2:41
  • +1, but in the absence of further context, I’d expect ‘sit a throne’ to be followed by where the throne is to be placed. Eg: sit the throne over there.
    – Lawrence
    Oct 6, 2017 at 8:00

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