HRW says the use of barrel bombs has "terrorised" Aleppo in recent months. The bombs are crude devices, often made from oil drums or large gas bottles, packed with explosives and bits of metal, that are literally tossed over the side of helicopters.

  1. What does "crude" mean ? Does it mean "natural"? ( based on what I saw in dictionaries about crude oil )

  2. My perception is that when the writer writes: ...that are literally tossed over the side of helicopters, he or she really means: ... that are in large numbers fell into ground from the side of helicopters. Am I right? Does the word "literally" here means " focal" or " in large numbers" ? Or something like that? Does the word "over" means "from"? Does the word "toss" mean "thrown" , "fell" , something like that?

4 Answers 4


Crude: Not carefully or skillfully made; rough.

Literally: Really; actually: (Used as an intensive before a figurative expression.)

Toss over: To throw upward: The bull tossed him over the fence.

  • 3
    Hmm, I think that IS pretty close to the definition of "crude" intended in this context. Maybe not "not skillfully made", but "not sophisticated or complex". The idea is that these are not the latest high-technology weapons, but something simple and easy to make.
    – Jay
    Apr 28, 2014 at 13:15
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    In context "toss" here doesn't necessarily mean "thrown upwards", but just that they are thrown out of helicopters. That is, someone opens the door of the helicopter and throws the bomb out. Again, it goes back to the idea of "crude". There is not some complex launching system, they just open the door and throw the bomb out.
    – Jay
    Apr 28, 2014 at 13:17
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    @Jay The post was edited after my comment; the original definition it listed for "crude" was "blunt or offensive". (Of course the edit is a good thing! That's always the hope when commenting; that the post will be improved through editing. So great job, Josh! :))
    – WendiKidd
    Apr 28, 2014 at 14:33

Crude means primitive, simple, or rudimentary in your context, literally means exactly and tossed as you guessed means thrown.


crude in this context means 'made directly from "raw" or "unprocessed" material'. the author says "oil drums"/"gas bottles".. this obviously denotes that the final product would be pretty amateurish? at least anything but professional or out of a production line. this answer is also crude in that I don't follow a decent format to lay out information (although I try to do justice to logic). that is crude.

literally means according to definition. if "I literally barked" then it's understood as I yelled "bow wow".. get it? if I literally "tossed over" or whatever, it means that I "performed" the act of tossing over.. if you read "her words felt like she bit my lips" it means that what thisguy heard from this girl nearly felt like she was making out with him. but "she literally bit my lips" means that it happened crudely. aha!

literally tossed over.. now figuratively or metaphorically (the opposite/antonym of literally) "tossed over" would mean that the "tossing" or "throwing away" hadn't actually happened but did in the writers mind. but literally tossed over, is, according to definition, these objects were thrown away or dumped into the sea or whatever.

over in tossed over means "clean above the platform of the helicoptor's side".


To expand a bit further on some excellent answers already given:

crude: Roughly made; primitive in form, capability, or appearance; of poor quality; Not professional.

tossed over: thrown so as to pass above a specified boundary.

literally: in actuality; used to declare that the following phrase is a real description, not figurative or metaphorical.

The bombs are ... literally tossed over the side: Some person physically picks up these barrel-bombs with their hands, and propels them out of the helicopter door with their own, unassisted muscle power. (There is no mechanical conveyance, no launching device, nothing; it's all done "by hand".)

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