\ 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

Synonyms & Antonyms for thwart

Synonyms: Verb

Antonyms: Verb

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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 The refusal by most Republicans to participate in the hearing was just the latest indication of how a party that portrays itself as the champion of law enforcement has worked to thwart attempts to investigate the attack. New York Times, 27 July 2021 Stopping the next real threat remains a major worry, the experts said, as hotels are not equipped to thwart attempts to bring weapons in and law enforcement can’t have eyes everywhere at once. Jeremy Gorner,, 14 July 2021 Companies used the maneuver to thwart unwanted takeover attempts by driving up the cost to the buyers. Washington Post, 29 Apr. 2021 Mayor Bill de Blasio last month issued the mandate in a bid to encourage vaccination and thwart a new wave of the pandemic triggered by the more contagious delta variant., 22 Aug. 2021 Thousands of soldiers were sent into the Himalayas to end the region’s isolation and thwart any ambitions on the part of the Russians. Sam Knight, The New Yorker, 16 Aug. 2021 Some fear this would thwart child protective workers from quickly reaching children who are in danger, but parent advocates say it’s a civil rights issue. Kendra Hurley, The New Republic, 18 Aug. 2021 Ethnic and sectarian divisions thwart attempts to overhaul political, social, and economic life all at the same time. Robin Wrigh, The New Yorker, 15 Aug. 2021 What happens when state or local governments thwart that approach remains to be seen. al, 12 Aug. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Threats to fish: As The Times has reported, droughts thwart fish migration and destroy habitats. Justin Ray, Los Angeles Times, 21 June 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun How much does the government's role thwart innovation to address actual on the ground issues? Roger Valdez, Forbes, 1 Sep. 2021 Luckily, this episode ends up being just as positive as the party was, after Justin and Griffin thwart Travis’s doldrums and move on to doling out free and funny advice. Pablo Goldstein, Vulture, 1 July 2021 Serving as captain of the maintop of the U.S.S. Pawnee in the attack upon Mathias Point, 26 June 1861, Williams told his men, while lying off in the boat, that every man must die on his thwart sooner than leave a man behind. Drew Broach | Staff Writer,, 10 Nov. 2020 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, 13 Sep. 2018 The center yoke thwart is perfectly balanced for one-person portages. The Editors, Outside Online, 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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The first known use of thwart was in the 13th century

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Last Updated

16 Sep 2021

Cite this Entry

“Thwart.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Sep. 2021.

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More Definitions for thwart



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.

More from Merriam-Webster on thwart

Nglish: Translation of thwart for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of thwart for Arabic Speakers


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