\ ˈrench How to pronounce wrench (audio) \
wrenched; wrenching; wrenches

Definition of wrench

 (Entry 1 of 2)

intransitive verb

1 : to move with a violent twist also : to undergo twisting
2 : to pull or strain at something with violent twisting

transitive verb

1 : to twist violently
2 : to injure or disable by a violent twisting or straining wrenched her back
3 : change especially : distort, pervert
4a : to pull or tighten by violent twisting or with violence
b : to snatch forcibly : wrest
5 : to cause to suffer mental anguish : rack entry 2



Definition of wrench (Entry 2 of 2)

1a : a violent twisting or a pull with or as if with twisting
b : a sharp twist or sudden jerk straining muscles or ligaments also : the resultant injury (as of a joint)
c : a distorting or perverting alteration
d : acute emotional distress : sudden violent mental change
2 : a hand or power tool for holding, twisting, or turning an object (such as a bolt or nut)

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Other Words from wrench


wrenchingly \ ˈren-​chiŋ-​lē How to pronounce wrenchingly (audio) \ adverb

Synonyms for wrench

Synonyms: Verb

twist, wrest, wring

Synonyms: Noun

twist, twisting, wrenching, wresting, wringing

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Examples of wrench in a Sentence


I tried to wrench free from his grip. I tried to wrench myself free from his grip. He wrenched his back when he tried to lift a heavy box. She wrenched the toy from his grasp. The statue was wrenched from its pedestal.


It was a wrench to say goodbye to all my friends. with a sharp wrench of the hammer I pulled the nail from the board
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The intergenerational tension feels more like wrenching, or perhaps punting. Wired, "WIRED's 13 Must-Read Books for Fall," 12 Sep. 2019 Even worse, Martinez was forced from the game after his leg got wrenched on a questionable tackle. Mike Singer, The Denver Post, "Nebraska left stunned after Colorado’s thrilling comeback win: “We were better than that team”," 7 Sep. 2019 Other reporters in the region agreed with their assertion that the end of the paper is gut-wrenching. Brian Stelter, CNN, "In Youngstown, Ohio, the local paper celebrated its 150th year in business. Now it's closing," 30 June 2019 The region had spiraled into a crisis far worse than even its normal, wrenching poverty. Kevin Baker, Harper's magazine, "Where Our New World Begins," 10 May 2019 The prime minister was already steering Britain towards a no-deal Brexit that would hit the economy, wrench at the union and cause a lasting rift with international allies. The Economist, "How Parliament can stop Boris Johnson’s no-deal Brexit," 29 Aug. 2019 Struggling to keep her guinea pig cafe open and butting up against the strain of family and friendships, Fleabag brings audiences into her deliciously messy life with plenty of bawdy humor, winking asides, and gut-wrenching truths. Maureen Lee Lenker, EW.com, "Phoebe Waller-Bridge's one-woman show version of Fleabag is headed to movie theaters," 28 Aug. 2019 Forgetting is inextricably tied to endings, to forgiveness, and to death, and the book is at times wrenching: victors obscure inhuman massacres; Hyde’s elderly mother has forgotten his name. Douglas Preston, The New Yorker, "Briefly Noted," 27 Aug. 2019 No one knows just what impact the buildup of CO2 will have, but some scientists fear that the globe will begin to warm up, bringing on wrenching climate changes. Mahita Gajanan, Time, "Environmentalists Have Been Warning About Amazon Fires for Decades. The Stakes Are Now Higher Than Ever," 23 Aug. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

City workers and other pros turn wrenches side by side with club members, and city inspectors sign off on the job afterward. Steve Rubenstein, SFChronicle.com, "Work is child’s play as Napa volunteer, 92, keeps building swings and slides," 30 Aug. 2019 Emotionally, the film operates in a classic Gray area, with barely perceptible eddies that build to a mighty existential wrench. Rachel Yang, EW.com, "First Ad Astra reviews say Brad Pitt shines in thoughtful, slightly familiar movie," 29 Aug. 2019 Homeowners often wield hammers, wrenches and brushes themselves for home improvement projects in order to save money and boost the value of their home. Chicago Tribune Staff, chicagotribune.com, "Daywatch: A look at Lightfoot’s first 100 days, tens of thousands of Cook County pot convictions will be automatically expunged and other things to know to start your day," 28 Aug. 2019 China and North Korea have long sought to reduce the US military presence in Northeast Asia by throwing wrenches in the trilateral relationship between Washington, Seoul and Tokyo. Joshua Berlinger, CNN, "North Korea and China are huge winners in the worsening Japan-South Korea spat," 23 Aug. 2019 From under the car, Steve asked for a wrench, so Braiden went into the garage in search of one. Samantha Schmidt, Washington Post, "Braiden Schirtzinger is non-binary, pregnant and about to take on the most gendered role of all," 16 Aug. 2019 Soon came the subsequent introduction of cordless impact drivers and impact wrenches permitted power-driving even the very longest, thickest screws. Joseph Truini, Popular Mechanics, "When To Use Nails Vs. Screws," 6 Aug. 2019 The risk is existential for the United Kingdom, as Brexit wrenches at the bonds with Scotland and Northern Ireland. The Economist, "To stop no-deal, Tory MPs must be ready to bring down Boris Johnson," 27 July 2019 Not now, amid our own seismic evolution, one that some days pulls us forward, yet, on other days, wrenches us frighteningly backward. Roy S. Johnson | Rjohnson@al.com, al.com, "Johnson: Atlanta ’96 shows how to make World Games succeed," 21 July 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'wrench.' 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 wrench


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1


1530, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for wrench


Middle English, from Old English wrencan; akin to Old High German renken to twist and perhaps to Latin vergere to bend, incline

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Statistics for wrench

Last Updated

15 Sep 2019

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Time Traveler for wrench

The first known use of wrench was before the 12th century

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More Definitions for wrench



English Language Learners Definition of wrench

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: to twist and pull with a sudden violent motion
: to injure (a part of your body) by making a violent twisting motion
: to take (something) by using force



English Language Learners Definition of wrench (Entry 2 of 2)

US : a tool consisting of a handle with one end designed to hold, twist, or turn an object (such as a bolt or nut)
: a violent twisting or pulling movement
chiefly British : something unpleasant that happens and that causes you to feel emotional pain


\ ˈrench How to pronounce wrench (audio) \
wrenched; wrenching

Kids Definition of wrench

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : to pull or twist with sudden sharp force He wrenched a branch from the tree.
2 : to injure by a sudden sharp twisting or straining I wrenched my knee.



Kids Definition of wrench (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : a tool used in turning nuts or bolts
2 : a violent twist to one side or out of shape
3 : an injury caused by twisting or straining : sprain
\ ˈrench How to pronounce wrench (audio) \

Medical Definition of wrench

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: to injure or disable by a violent twisting or straining slipped and wrenched her back



Medical Definition of wrench (Entry 2 of 2)

: a sharp twist or sudden jerk straining muscles or ligaments also : the resultant injury (as of a joint)

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More from Merriam-Webster on wrench

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with wrench

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for wrench

Spanish Central: Translation of wrench

Nglish: Translation of wrench for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of wrench for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about wrench

Comments on wrench

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


authorized for issue (as a bond)

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