A Stone’s Throw—A Simple Phrase for Short Distance

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Danielle McLeod

Danielle McLeod is a highly qualified secondary English Language Arts Instructor who brings a diverse educational background to her classroom. With degrees in science, English, and literacy, she has worked to create cross-curricular materials to bridge learning gaps and help students focus on effective writing and speech techniques. Currently working as a dual credit technical writing instructor at a Career and Technical Education Center, her curriculum development surrounds student focus on effective communication for future career choices.

A stone’s throw is an idiom that means a short distance, typically used to describe a location that is not far away. It is often used figuratively to convey proximity or a close distance between two points or places.

Idiomatic expressions such as a stone’s throw are phrases or constructions with meanings that cannot be deduced from the literal definitions of their individual words. They play a vital role in the English language by adding richness, cultural nuance, and efficiency to communication. 

In this guide, I delve deeper into the idiom’s meaning, origin, and proper usage. I also share some tips for practical use, sentence examples, variations, and related terms and phrases. At the end, you can take the short quiz I whipped up to test your knowledge of the idiom. Let’s get started!

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What Does the Idiom a Stone’s Throw Mean?

The idiom a stone’s throw refers to a short distance, derived from the notion that a stone can only be thrown a limited distance. While the idiom does not specify a precise measurement, it is commonly used to describe a brief or nearby distance. 

Collins Dictionary says, “If you say that one place is a stone’s throw from another, you mean that the places are close to each other.”  Moreover, both Merriam-Webster and Cambridge Dictionary define the idiom as “a short or very short distance.”

For example, I convinced my friend that trying out the new restaurant in town was worth the drive since it was only a stone’s throw away, and we could drive there, eat, and still make our theater event. 

Variations of the Idiom

Variations of the expression exist, and all are used to indicate a short distance.

  • Within a stone’s throw
  • Beyond a stone’s throw
  • Just a stone’s throw away
  • Close as a stone’s throw
  • A stone’s toss away
  • Just a pebble’s throw
  • A short stone’s throw

How Is the Idiom a Stone’s Throw Commonly Used in Context?

The idiom a stone’s throw adds a vivid touch to English language expression by conveying the idea of a short distance. Its origins in the physical act of throwing a stone make it a relatable and widely used phrase.

In the following sections, we’ll explore how this idiom is commonly employed, provide examples to illustrate its contextual use, and offer tips for incorporating it effectively into everyday language. 

What Are the Different Ways to Use the Idiom a Stone’s Throw?

When using a stone’s throw, consider what message you are trying to explain. Use it in the following manner and review each sentence example for clarity:

  • Literal distance: The grocery store is just a stone’s throw from my house.
  • Proximity: Our offices are within a stone’s throw of each other, so we can easily collaborate.
  • Figurative measurement: Her talent is a stone’s throw away from greatness.
  • Comparison of distance: Compared to the vastness of the universe, our planet is merely a stone’s throw.
  • Symbolic significance: The bridge serves as a stone’s throw between two communities, bringing them closer together.
  • Indication of a short journey: Let’s take a quick trip to the beach; it’s just a stone’s throw away.
  • Expressing something being nearby: The café is a stone’s throw from here; we can grab a coffee easily.
  • Implying a small obstacle or challenge: Although we faced a few hurdles, we overcame them with a stone’s throw of determination.
  • Emphasizing a small or insignificant difference: The two candidates’ viewpoints are just a stone’s throw apart.
  • Suggesting a casual or effortless action: He threw the ball with a stone’s throw of effort and scored a goal.

Where Can You Find Examples of the Idiom a Stone’s Throw?

You can find examples of the idiom a stone’s throw in various contexts in different forms of media, including TV shows, movies, books, articles, and online sources.

Here are a few examples of the idiom’s use in some online publications:

Chad Kearns said he chose the name A Stone’s Throw Winery because their San Juan winery is now “just a stone’s throw from Giracci,” his first wine label. (The Capistrano Dispatch)

And in Germany, I am a unquestionably a migrant – even if my home country, Luxemburg, is just a stone’s throw away from Bonn. (Deutsche Welle)

What Are Some Tips for Using the Idiom a Stone’s Throw Effectively?

Here are some practical tips for using the idiom effectively:

  • Context is key: Consider the situation and context in which you use the idiom. Ensure that it makes sense and conveys the intended meaning. 
  • Be aware of your tone: A stone’s throw can be used casually and formally. Pay attention to the tone of your communication and adjust the usage accordingly. 
  • Consider the audience: If you are unsure about your audience’s familiarity with the idiom, it might be safer to opt for a more straightforward description of distance or proximity.
  • Use it sparingly: Reserve it for situations that add value to your description or comparison.
  • Choose appropriate alternatives: To avoid using the idiom repetitively, explore alternative phrases that convey a similar meaning. 
  • Consider the literal meaning: Remember that a stone’s throw is derived from the physical act of throwing a stone. 

What Is the Origin of the Idiom a Stone’s Throw?

Stones throw Ngram
Stone’s throw usage trend.

The expression a stone’s throw was first used in Wycliffe’s Bible translation, published in 1526, in the book of Luke 22.41: “…And he was taken awei fro hem, so myche as is a stonys cast; and he knelide…” 

A translation of Homer’s Illiad, The Ten Books of Homer’s Iliades, for example, was published in 1581 and contained the following: “For who can see a stones throw of ought thing in land or plaine?”

How Did the Idiom Evolve Over Time?

Over time, a stone’s throw has held onto its original meaning, signifying a short distance. However, the use of the idiom has become more flexible. Originally, it may have referred to a literal, measurable distance—perhaps as far as an average person could throw a stone.

In modern times, the idiom is used more subjectively to denote a short or convenient distance, not necessarily equivalent to the distance one can throw a stone. It suggests closeness or convenience rather than a specific measurement. 

What Are Some Related Terms to a Stone’s Throw?

Understanding variations and terms related to the idiom can help you use it correctly in your material. 

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Here are some synonyms for the idiom a stone’s throw:

  • Short distance
  • Close proximity
  • Nearby
  • Within reach
  • Handful of steps
  • Not far off
  • In close quarters


Here are some antonyms for the phrase a stone’s throw that emphasize a significant distance or separation:

  • Far away
  • Distant
  • A long haul
  • Out of reach
  • A world apart
  • Worlds away
  • Far removed

A Stone’s Throw: Test Your Knowledge!

Choose the correct answer.

What Have We Learned about a Stone’s Throw?

The idiom a stone’s throw is a versatile expression that can be used in various contexts. It typically refers to a short distance or close proximity between two locations or objects. The idiom conveys the idea of something being nearby or within reach, whether used literally or figuratively. 

It can also be used to describe physical distances, symbolic comparisons, or emphasize the ease of reaching a destination. Understanding the appropriate usage and context allows for effective communication and adds descriptions of distance and proximity.

I hope you enjoyed this idiom lesson. And if you’re eager to delve deeper into the realm of English idioms, our site offers an abundance of guides to assist you on your learning journey.