in the throes

in the throes

In the midst of, especially of a difficult struggle. For example, The country was in the throes of economic collapse, or We were in the throes of giving a formal dinner when my in-laws arrived. The noun throe, meaning "a severe pang or spasm of pain," was at first used mainly for such physical events as childbirth or dying. Today it is used both seriously (first example) and more lightly (second example). [Mid-1800s]
See also: throe
References in classic literature ?
So I was up and out of the town while as yet most of the inhabitants were in the throes of getting up.
He would cry for nothing; he would burst into storms of devilish temper without notice, and let go scream after scream and squall after squall, then climax the thing with "holding his breath"-- that frightful specialty of the teething nursling, in the throes of which the creature exhausts its lungs, then is convulsed with noiseless squirmings and twistings and kickings in the effort to get its breath, while the lips turn blue and the mouth stands wide and rigid, offering for inspection one wee tooth set in the lower rim of a hoop of red gums; and when the appalling stillness has endured until one is sure the lost breath will never return, a nurse comes flying, and dashes water in the child's face, and--presto
As a man struggles in the throes of nightmare, so Jerry struggled in the vexed, salt-suffocating sea.
When anne came downstairs again, the Island, as well as all Canada, was in the throes of a campaign preceding a general election.
Immediately thereafter she raised her voice in the shrill, hoarse, monotonous madness of hysteria, sat down on the floor, and rocked back and forth in the throes of an abysmal grief.
He was beset by ideas and in the throes of one of his ideas was uncontrollable.
Tublat was his most consistent enemy, but it was through Tublat that, when he was about thirteen, the persecution of his enemies suddenly ceased and he was left severely alone, except on the occasions when one of them ran amuck in the throes of one of those strange, wild fits of insane rage which attacks the males of many of the fiercer animals of the jungle.
She could not help respecting her spirit and her desire, even in the throes of sickness, for a tidy bedroom.
He sighed, threw both arms outward, and turned over on his back mumbling as though in the throes of a bad dream.
The camp, in the throes of packing refractory, half broken sumpter animals, and saddling their own wild mounts, did not notice his departure.
It was not a happy scene in its outcome, for Dede, in the throes of her own desire, desperate with weakness and at the same time with her better judgment hating her weakness cried out:--
They bristled up to him, stiff-legged and challenging, while he, wasting no time on elaborate preliminaries, snapping into action like a steel spring, was at their throats and destroying them before they knew what was happening and while they were yet in the throes of surprise.
Were you an ape, you would know that only a bull in the throes of madness will turn upon a female other than to gently chastise her, with the occasional exception of the individual whom we find exemplified among our own kind, and who delights in beating up his better half because she happens to be smaller and weaker than he.
Once they heard hideous screams up a side street, and looking they saw a man in the throes of a demoniacal outburst of rage, similar to that which they had witnessed in the recent attack upon Smith-Oldwick.
She moved as one in the throes of some hideous nightmare--slowly, painfully, as though each limb was hampered by a great weight, or as she were dragging her body through a viscous fluid.