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Toss vs. Fling: What's the Difference?

Edited by Janet White || By Harlon Moss || Updated on November 6, 2023
Toss means to throw lightly or casually; fling means to throw forcefully or carelessly.

Key Differences

Toss is generally used to describe a light or gentle throw, often underhanded, such as one might do with a ball or a coin. Fling, by contrast, implies a more forceful or abrupt motion, often overhanded and with a degree of carelessness, like flinging clothes to the floor.
When you toss something, it’s often done with some control and intention, such as tossing a salad where the ingredients are lightly mixed. To fling something is to throw it without much concern for where it lands, such as flinging a backpack onto a bed in a haphazard manner.
In sports, a player might toss a ball to a teammate as part of a strategic play, which is a deliberate and controlled action. In a moment of frustration, the same player might fling their equipment aside, demonstrating a lack of control and precision.
The word toss can also imply a degree of randomness or chance, as in tossing a coin. Fling seldom has connotations of chance; it often carries an implication of decisiveness or impulsiveness in the act of throwing.
Toss can also be used in a figurative sense, such as tossing ideas around in a brainstorming session, suggesting a casual and informal exchange. Fling doesn’t comfortably fit into such figurative language; it retains its physicality, often indicating a sudden or rash action.

Comparison Chart


Light, gentle, controlled
Forceful, abrupt, careless


Less force, underhand motion
More force, overhand motion


More precise, intentional
Less precise, haphazard

Usage in Language

Can be literal or figurative
Typically literal

Emotional Context

Neutral or playful
Often associated with frustration or impetuosity

Toss and Fling Definitions


To throw lightly or casually.
She tossed the ball to her dog.


To move oneself in a sudden and vigorous manner.
The child flung himself into his mother's arms.


To mix ingredients lightly.
Toss the salad with some olive oil and vinegar.


To throw forcefully or carelessly.
In a fit of anger, she flung the vase against the wall.


To flip a coin to decide something.
They decided to toss a coin for the last slice of pizza.


To cast aside or discard.
She flung her ex-boyfriend's letters into the fire.


To throw something aside carelessly.
He tossed his dirty laundry onto the chair.


To put or send abruptly.
He flung down his resignation letter on the boss's desk.


To discuss ideas informally.
Let's toss around some ideas for the new marketing campaign.


To engage in a short-lived, casual relationship.
They had a summer fling that ended as the leaves began to fall.


To throw lightly or casually or with a sudden jerk
Tossed the shirt on the floor.


To throw with violence
Flung the dish against the wall.


To throw or propel upward
The bull tossed him over the fence.


To put or send suddenly or unexpectedly
Troops that were flung into battle.


Can fling be used in a romantic context?

Yes, fling can refer to a short and casual romantic relationship.

Can I use toss when referring to throwing heavy objects?

Toss is usually for light objects; heavy ones would not fit the term well.

Is tossing always done with the hands?

Yes, tossing typically involves using the hands.

Can fling imply a lack of care?

Yes, fling often suggests a careless or forceful action.

Is 'tossing and turning' an example of figurative language?

Yes, it's a figurative way to describe restless movement in bed.

Can you use fling to describe a throw in sports?

It's less common, as fling lacks the precision often associated with sports.

Can athletes toss equipment in their sport?

Yes, athletes often toss items like batons in track and field.

Is it correct to say 'toss a pancake'?

Yes, 'toss a pancake' is a common phrase for flipping it in the air.

Do the words fling and toss have the same level of intensity?

No, fling usually implies more intensity than toss.

Is there a game that involves tossing?

Yes, games like cornhole involve tossing bean bags.

Does fling always mean to throw with hands?

Typically, yes, but it can also describe the sudden movement of the body.

Is it more common to toss or fling a coin?

Tossing a coin is the usual phrase, especially when deciding something by chance.

Does fling have a positive or negative connotation?

Fling often has a negative or aggressive connotation.

Are there any idioms with the word toss?

Yes, such as "toss your hat into the ring."

Is it appropriate to use fling to describe a methodical action?

No, fling implies a lack of method or planning.

Is flinging something likely to cause damage?

Yes, due to the force, flinging something can cause damage.

Can toss be used as a noun?

Yes, toss can be a noun referring to the act of throwing lightly.

Would you fling something you treasure?

No, because fling implies a lack of care or consideration.

Is toss a synonym for throw?

Yes, but toss implies a lighter or more careful throw.

Can fling be a verb and a noun?

Yes, it can be both: the action of throwing or a short, casual relationship.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.

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