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See this image, a large heavy stone may be laid accidentally on his toes

enter image description here

squash [transitive] to press something so that it becomes soft, damaged or flat, or changes shape

squash something/somebody The tomatoes at the bottom of the bag had been squashed.

Move up—you’re squashing me!

squash something against something He squashed his nose against the window.

squash something + adj. Squash your cans flat before recycling.


Note: The object may not fall from a higher position onto his toes. The object may be so heavy that when he drag it & push it he may accidentally lay it on his toes. And, sometimes his toes may hurt but not to a level that the toes become damaged.

This person says

Crush is more often used for hard objects, like "I crushed the soda can." Squash is usually for soft things like fruit. "She squashes the rotten mangoes."

However, the dictionary says "Unfortunately some of the flowers got crushed when we were moving them.", so I assume "crush" can be applied for softer objects such as flowers or grapes.

Ngram says "crush it" is much more common than "squash it".

How do we express it "Be careful!, The stone may squash your toes"?

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  • “Be careful of that stone, it might break (or crush) your toes/feet”
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Jan 4, 2020 at 12:19

1 Answer 1

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To lay something, suggests something that is positioned with care and thought. You lay a table, someone lays a trap, an injured person is laid on a stretcher etc. If any object, heavy or light, is laid accidentally it means it was positioned in the wrong place or time.

She noticed the keys he accidentally laid down on the table. Her eyes widened as she realized his mistake.

But in the image above, if the stone slips by accident it will fall on top of the victim's toes.

Be careful if that stone falls, it might crush your toes.

A heavy object is likely to crush something that is weaker or softer. You crush grapes to make wine; crushed ice helps make a delicious granita, instead of cracking nuts, we might crush them into small pieces.

i. crushed beneath a bus
ii crushed between two cars

To squash something or to be squashed usually means to squeeze something or somebody in a tight space, if a pair of shoes are too small, your toes will feel squashed or cramped inside. You can feel squashed on some airplane seats. Soft fruit and vegetables are squashed if something heavy is placed on top. Therefore, in the OP's example, the bones in a person's toes will be crushed under a thick heavy slab of stone.

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  • I think a toe caught between a locomotive wheel and the rail would be completely squashed, rather than crushed. To my mind, crushing implies breaking bigger things into smaller things (or at least, inducing fractures) - but there are still "constituent parts" at the end of the process. But with enough pressure, the digit would effectively be converted to liquid / jam - squashed or mashed. Think fruit squash, or "smashed / crushed" potato as opposed to mashed potato. Commented Jan 4, 2020 at 15:57

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