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The basic meaning of them all as I understand it is:

To throw

Disparar seems to pertain exclusively to shooting or throwing something for the sole purpose of harming (maybe to shoot is the best translation?). But the difference between the others stump me.

What are the general differences between them?

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In places in Central America they use the word botar for to throw in at least some common senses. I think I picked it up from roadsigns telling us not to throw rubbish from vehicles. – hippietrail Jan 24 '12 at 10:43
@hippietrail: botar, as I understand it, is strictly "to throw out (as garbage)" or "to dump (garbage)" as opposed to a general word for "to throw". – jrdioko Jan 24 '12 at 17:41
@jrdioko: Could be but most of the words probably have some restrictions as well. I only knew botar as a word for to bounce before seeing such signs. – hippietrail Jan 24 '12 at 17:51

1 Answer 1

up vote 5 down vote accepted

All of them have numerous aceptions at RAE, but just looking at the firsts ones you can tell some of the differences.

In general I would say

  • echar is let something go with a little impulse and also means fire someone.

  • tirar/lanzar with some subtles differences are throw something with intention and strenght or even violence. (Please be aware that the reflexive tirarse in Spain is slang and can be said as "Tirarse a alguien" Having sexual intercourse with someone/no serious relationship implied or "tirarse el rollo" talk high about oneself).

  • arrojar is kind of regional and is, generally, synonim of both echar and tirar.

  • disparar is to shoot.

I'm letting the RAE aceptions I think mark the most the differences between the verbs, but I recommend you to consult it for a whole definition.

  • echar1. (Del lat. iactāre).
    1. tr. Hacer que algo vaya a parar a alguna parte, dándole impulso. Echar mercancías al mar Echar basura a la calle (from
    2. tr. Despedir de sí algo. Echar olor, sangre, chispas
    3. tr. Hacer que algo caiga en sitio determinado. Echar dinero en un saco Echar una carta al buzón
    4. tr. Hacer salir a alguien de algún lugar, apartarle con violencia, por desprecio, castigo, etc.
    5. tr. Deponer a alguien de su empleo o dignidad, impidiéndole el ejercicio de ella.
  • tirar. (De or. inc.).

    1. tr. Dejar caer intencionadamente algo.
    2. tr. Arrojar, lanzar en dirección determinada. Juan tiraba piedras a Diego
    3. tr. Derribar a alguien.
    4. tr. Echar abajo, demoler y trastornar, poner lo de arriba, abajo. Tirar una casa, un árbol
    5. tr. Desechar algo, deshacerse de ello. Esta camisa está para tirarla
    6. tr. Disparar la carga de un arma de fuego, o un artificio explosivo. Tirar un cañonazo, un cohete. U. t. c. intr. Tirar al alto, al blanco, a un venado
    7. tr. Estirar o extender

      • lanzar. (Del lat. lanceāre).
    8. tr. arrojar. U. t. c. prnl.
    9. tr. Soltar, dejar libre. U. m. en la volatería, referido a las aves.
    10. tr. Promover la rápida difusión de algo nuevo.
    11. tr. Dar, proferir, exhalar.

      • Arrojar: Is synonim of both lanzar and echar (see
      • Disparar: To shoot
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