Green’s Dictionary of Slang

throw down v.

1. to overcome, to prove too much for [wrestling imagery].

[UK]H. Fludyer Letters 98: These blessed exams are getting awfully close now; but I think I shall floor mine, and Dick’s sure to throw his examiners down.

2. (US) to discard, to abandon.

[US]J.S. Wood Yale Yarns 253: That Gower girl, — she’s thrown him down.
[US]Flynt & Walton Powers That Prey 170: If they see ’t ye mean business they ’ll crawl, but if ye monkey with ’em, they ’ll t’row ye down.
[US]W.M. Raine Brand Blotters (1912) 158: You don’t figure he’s aiming to throw us down – do you, Buck?
[US]J. Lait ‘Felice o’ the Follies’ in Beef, Iron and Wine (1917) 77: Unless you wire me twenty here, care city jail, will have to do ten days. Don’t throw me down this time. It will be the last.
[US]D. Hammett ‘Assistant Murderer’ in Nightmare Town (2001) 142: My parties are out! I don’t mind throwing them down, but I ain’t rat enough to put the finger on them for you.
[US]Victoria Spivey ‘TB’s Got Me’ [lyrics] TB’s got me, all my friends have thrown me down / TB’s got me, and all my friends have thrown me down.
[US]Louis Jordan ‘’Fore Day Blues’ [lyrics] Hmmm, I can’t get started / Since you threw me down, / I thought you were the square, babe, / And you played me for a clown.
[US]Monteleone Criminal Sl. (rev. edn).
[UK]Guardian Guide 1–6 Jan. 18: Gettin’ back on the block, thrown’ down that ill shit and bustin’ some seriously wrong moves in this here column.

3. (US) to get someone into trouble, to betray.

[US]St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO) 3 Dec. 17/7: ‘To throw down’ means to do a mean trick.
[US]Star and Sentinel (Gettysburg, PA) 4/5: ‘To throw down’ – To get a chum into trouble.
[US]G. Bronson-Howard God’s Man 155: ‘Listen,’ said Mr. Quinn with deep feeling, ‘any time I throw down a pal ...’.
[US]G. Henderson Keys to Crookdom 421: Throw down. To betray.

4. in senses of SE throw down the gauntlet.

(a) (US) to challenge, in an aggressive manner; also attrib.

[US]R. Lardner ‘My Roomy’ in Coll. Short Stories (1941) 331: So I says I’d tackle it, because I didn’t want to throw John down.
[US]D. Hammett ‘Corkscrew’ Story Omnibus (1966) 210: What I don’t like [...] is a yellow puppy that’ll throw down the men he rides with.
[US]E. Anderson Thieves Like Us (1999) 7: We could flag a car and throw down on them.
[US]Edwardsville Intelligencer (IL) 30 Mar. 2/1: If someone with a shank throws down on a hack there is friction in the joint.
[US]P. Munro Sl. U. 192: throw down to instigate something, to do something critical or provocative.
[US]R. Price Clockers 103: Darryl’s beating heart was a throw-down challenge to his own welfare.
[US]Eble Campus Sl. Apr.
[US]NY Times Online Crossword Blog 12 Mar. [Internet] The Puzzle Master ‘Throws Down’ on Illin’ [...] the debate was [...] a lively and immediate exchange about a current piece of hip hop slang.

(b) (US black) to get into a fight with.

[US](con. 1982–6) T. Williams Cocaine Kids (1990) 138: throw down to fight or have a physical confrontation.
[US]2Pac ‘I Don’t Give a Fuck’ [lyrics] What, you wanna throw down? Better bring your gun, pal.
[UK]P. Baker Blood Posse 7: Nathan stood up, swelled up his chest, ready to throw down.
Online Sl. Dict. [Internet] throw down v 1. to fight. (‘Look, they’re about to throw down!’).
[US]J. Stahl Pain Killers 158: If he wanted to throw down, maybe I could hit him with a chair.

(c) (US teen) to challenge a rival, e.g. MC or breakdancer .

[US]Funky Four + 1 ‘Rappin and Rockin the House’ [lyrics] I’m the plus one more and I’m throwin down.
[US]Afrika Bambata [song title] Zulu Nation Throw-down.

5. (US campus) to eat or drink voraciously.

[US]J. Lait Gangster Girl 42: The servant sing-songed in with the Scotch. Annie threw it down.
[US]N. Algren Neon Wilderness (1986) 68: Banty threw two slugs down his throat.
[UK]K. Amis letter 21 Nov. in Leader (2000) 609: We’ll be throwing down shish-kebab in Shepherd’s Bush and whitebait in Whitechapel before very long.
[Aus]A. Buzo Rooted I iii: There were all these incredibly tactile people throwing down Red Ned.
[US]J. Conaway Big Easy 161: Comiski threw down the whiskey.
[Aus]R. Aven-Bray Ridgey-Didge Oz Jack Lang 10: Balmain was one of his old stamping grounds and his old chinas might be still around throwing down a pig’s ear or three.
[US]T.R. Houser Central Sl. 56: vittles, throw down some To get hold of some grub. To have dinner.
[US]E. Bunker Mr Blue 258: That called for two more [drinks]; again I threw one down and sipped the other.

6. (US black/campus) to enjoy oneself vigorously, to dance.

[US]Eble Campus Sl. Fall 7: throw down – to have a good time.
[US]K-9 Corp. ‘Dog Talk’ [lyrics] It was something ’bout the dog that made me throw down.
[US](con. 1970s) G. Pelecanos King Suckerman (1998) 14: Seven hours of festival-style throwin’ down.
[US]‘Touré’ Portable Promised Land (ms.) 157: We Words (My Favorite Things) [...] Throw down. Clock block. Drop top. Wild style.
[US]C. Eble (ed.) UNC-CH Campus Sl. Spring 2014 15: THROW DOWN — have a party: ‘We’re throwing down at our house tonight’.

7. (US black) to perform music (without agressive subtext of sense 4c).

Sugarhill Gang ‘Rapper’s Delight’ [lyrics] He’s guaranteed to throw down.
LA Dream Team ‘The Dream Team Is In The House’ [lyrics] My name is Pardee, and I’m gonna throw down.
Young MC ‘Back in the Day’ [lyrics] When I got a little older, grab the mic and throw down.
Ghostface Killah ‘9 Milli Bros.’ [lyrics] Niggas be rhymin’ for nothing, then my team pull up, we all throw down, y’all broke niggas stay frontin’.

8. attrib. use of sense 6.

[US]G. Tate ‘King Sunny Adé’ in Flyboy in the Buttermilk (1992) 63: A real black American throwdown party crowd.

9. (US black/campus) to perform well; to work hard on a major project.

[US]G. Tate ‘Bad Brains’ in Flyboy in the Buttermilk (1992) 23: The band’s Scot-screeching frontman H.R. throws down like James Brown gone beserk.
[US]Eble Campus Sl. Nov. 9: throw down – do something with intensity. ‘I threw down on some math last night.’.

10. (US campus) to have sexual intercourse.

[US]Eble Campus Sl. Spring 8: throw down – have sex.
[US]Eble Sl. and Sociability 71: One hits on members of the opposite sex, potential slampieces, and winds up throwing down, knocking boots, or banging them.

In phrases

throw down on (v.) (also throw on)

(US Und.) to hold a gun on.

[US]H.S. Canfield A Maid of Frontier 183: [He] threw his pistol down on Chisholm at three feet distance [DA].
[US]C.E. Mulford Bar-20 Three 195: You got plenty of gall, comin’ down here an’ throwin’ a gun on me, for that!
[US](con. 1880s) E. Cunningham Triggernometry (1957) 227: He rode up and ‘threw down’ on the wanted man.
[US]Robert Johnson ‘Stop Breaking Down Blues’ [lyrics] Now, I give my baby, now, the ninety-nine degree, / she jumped up and throwed a pistol down on me.
[US]‘Hal Ellson’ ‘Tell Them Nothing’ in Tell Them Nothing (1956) 8: Get a gun and you can kill [...] Yeah, what’ll he do if I throw this on him?
[US]E. Torres After Hours 76: You must be crazy [...] throwin’ a gun on me.
[US]S. Morgan Homeboy 70: Have Rooski cover the patrons while I throw down on whatever motherfuckers are in the basement.
[US]E. Little Another Day in Paradise 76: Motherfucker called Mel a weenie, he had to throw down on him.
[US]Simon & Burns ‘One Arrest’ Wire ser. 1 ep. 7 [TV script] Old Bird will throw down without thinking, for sure.
throw down one’s cards (v.) (also throw up one’s cards)

to give up a project, a way of life.

[UK]Partridge DSUE (8th edn) 1226/1: since late C.17.