If someone throws a small-sized object, like an ashtray or a phone charger, at a person's head, what word should I use to describe the impact?

I'm thinking about 'stroke', 'strike', or 'blow', but it's not easy to tell the difference from the definition given in dictionaries. As far as I understood, 'blow' refers only to physical contact, like a fist, so I guess I can exclude that.

Another question concerns the preposition to be used, i.e. 'on' or 'to', since an ngram search gave me many results in both cases.

A couple of example sentences for clarity:

  1. That was a hard stroke (or whatever other word) to (or on) his head.

  2. He felt a hard stroke to the back of his head.

On a side note, I've always found the word 'stroke' rather puzzling, since it also refers to a gentle touch. But that, I guess, can be cleared up with an adjective.

  • 1
    "Stroke" will almost never be correct because of that word's other meaning of a severe medical condition.
    – gotube
    Commented Oct 3, 2022 at 14:34
  • 1
    @gotube - When I was a boy, school headmasters were allowed to give six strokes of the cane to a miscreant's posterior. Commented Oct 4, 2022 at 10:06

1 Answer 1


Typically, we would call the impact on the body of e.g. another person's fist, an object, an arrow or bullet, etc, a 'blow'.

Gavin John McErlane alleged that he was walking behind Constable Black when he felt a blow to the back of his head and fell to the ground.

Something sang like an arrow through the air; I felt a blow and then a sharp pang, and there I was pinned by the shoulder to the mast.

She then felt a blow to the side of her head, which knocked off her hat

She pushed him back but when she turned away felt a blow to the back of her head and realised she was bleeding from where he had struck her


a hard hit from someone’s hand or an object

The victim was apparently killed by a blow to the head with a heavy object.

They knocked him down and pummelled him with blows.

Blow (Macmillan Dictionary)

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