\ ˈthwȯrt How to pronounce thwart (audio) \
thwarted; thwarting; thwarts

Definition of thwart

 (Entry 1 of 4)

transitive verb

1a : to oppose successfully : defeat the hopes or aspirations of
b : to run counter to so as to effectively oppose or baffle : contravene
2 : to pass through or across


\ ˈthwȯrt How to pronounce thwart (audio) , nautical often ˈthȯrt \

Definition of thwart (Entry 2 of 4)



Definition of thwart (Entry 3 of 4)

: situated or placed across something else : transverse



Definition of thwart (Entry 4 of 4)

: a seat extending athwart a boat

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Other Words from thwart


thwarter noun


thwartly adverb

Choose the Right Synonym for thwart


frustrate, thwart, foil, baffle, balk mean to check or defeat another's plan or block achievement of a goal. frustrate implies making vain or ineffectual all efforts however vigorous or persistent. frustrated attempts at government reform thwart suggests frustration or checking by crossing or opposing. the army thwarted his attempt at a coup foil implies checking or defeating so as to discourage further effort. foiled by her parents, he stopped trying to see her baffle implies frustration by confusing or puzzling. baffled by the maze of rules and regulations balk suggests the interposing of obstacles or hindrances. officials felt that legal restrictions had balked their efforts to control crime

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Thwart and its synonyms "foil" and "frustrate" all suggest checking or defeating another's plan or preventing the achievement of a goal. "Foil" implies checking or defeating so as to discourage future efforts ("foiled by her parents, he stopped trying to see her"), while "frustrate" suggests making all efforts, however vigorous or persistent, futile or ineffectual ("frustrated attempts at government reform"). "Thwart" usually indicates frustration caused by opposition ("the army thwarted an attempted coup").

Examples of thwart in a Sentence

Verb She did all she could to thwart his plans. The army thwarted the attempt at a coup.
Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Inadvertently left home by himself over the holidays, a boy tries to thwart two dimwitted burglars. Chris Foran,, "Christmas TV guide 2019: Where and when you can find holiday shows, from Hallmark movies to 'Grinch'," 25 Nov. 2019 As Farrow recounts, Weinstein arrayed not just some big legal guns to thwart him and other reporters, but a host of black-ops characters: former Mossad agents, Ukrainian surveillance pros, European undercover operatives. Author: Paul Farhi, Anchorage Daily News, "Ronan Farrow overcame spies, intimidation to break some of the biggest stories of the #MeToo era," 11 Oct. 2019 Her research at Graphika has helped thwart an Iranian effort to interfere in the 2018 midterm elections and contributed to quashing misinformation and manipulation campaigns on Facebook in Bangladesh, the Philippines, and Saudi Arabia. Elise Craig, Marie Claire, "The Troll Hunter Who Could Stop Russia from Hacking the 2020 Presidential Election," 7 Oct. 2019 In 2005, Hopper helped thwart a bizarre plot in which a group of out-of-town Libertarians hoped to move in suddenly and take over the county government with their votes. John Maccormack,, "Oil boom hits remote Loving County," 26 Sep. 2019 However, Ikea has since tried to thwart the multiple attempts at spin-off games across Europe. Ashley Boucher,, "Police Stop a 3,000-Person Game of Hide-and-Seek at Scottish Ikea Because of Safety Concerns," 13 Sep. 2019 Texas tried to pass reforms in the 2017 session, but the bail industry’s lobbying efforts helped thwart the measure from progressing, according to a committee staff member. Wire Service, The Mercury News, "States are trying to change a system that keeps poor people in jail. The bail industry is blocking them.," 30 Aug. 2019 One of the targets was Kentucky’s own Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, who helped thwart a bipartisan push to keep the sanctions in place. Simon Shuster/london, Time, "A Kremlin-Linked Firm Invested Millions in Kentucky. Were They After More Than Money?," 13 Aug. 2019 His goal was to try to thwart Harden's signature stepback, avoid fouling and invite Harden inside where he would be challenged by Antetokounmpo and Brook Lopez. Matt Velazquez, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Bucks full of confidence, but meeting with Houston superstars Harden, Westbrook stirs curiosity," 25 Sep. 2018 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Germany has previously had success with American intelligence information helping thwart plots, most notably in 2007 in stopping a plan to bomb the U.S. Air Force's Ramstein Air Base in southern Germany. David Rising, Fox News, "German teenager arrested in gay club bomb attack plan," 13 Sep. 2018 The center yoke thwart is perfectly balanced for one-person portages. The Editors, Outside Online, "REI Is Having an Huge Sale on Water Sports Gear," 18 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'thwart.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of thwart


13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1b


14th century, in the meaning defined above


14th century, in the meaning defined above


circa 1736, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for thwart


Middle English thwerten, from thwert, adverb


Middle English thwert, from Old Norse thvert, from neuter of thverr transverse, oblique; akin to Old High German dwerah transverse, oblique


alteration of obsolete thought, thoft, from Middle English thoft, from Old English thofte; akin to Old High German dofta rower's seat

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Time Traveler for thwart

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The first known use of thwart was in the 13th century

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Last Updated

17 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Thwart.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 17 January 2020.

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More Definitions for thwart


How to pronounce thwart (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of thwart

: to prevent (someone) from doing something or to stop (something) from happening


\ ˈthwȯrt How to pronounce thwart (audio) \
thwarted; thwarting

Kids Definition of thwart

: to stop from happening or succeeding Police thwarted the crime.

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More from Merriam-Webster on thwart

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for thwart

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with thwart

Spanish Central: Translation of thwart

Nglish: Translation of thwart for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of thwart for Arabic Speakers

Comments on thwart

What made you want to look up thwart? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a plan in which a last survivor takes all

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