\ 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

Narrated by Black girls and teens (aged seven to 19) who share heart-wrenching true stories, the feature-length film examines educational and disciplinary disparities around the country. Donna M. Owens, Essence, "Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley Tackles The ‘PUSHOUT’ Of Black Girls At School," 17 Sep. 2019 Making explicit the protagonist’s Jewish background, the heart-wrenching black-and-white film brings to life the horrors of the Holocaust through the dark, somber eyes of extraordinary newcomer Petr Kotlar. Thr Staff, The Hollywood Reporter, "Hollywood Reporter Critics' 20 Favorite Films From the Fall Festivals," 15 Sep. 2019 Heart-wrenching photos of a 5-year-old girl gently supporting her 4-year-old brother as the side effects of chemotherapy disrupt their playtime have gone viral after their mother shared a raw post about how childhood cancer impacts the whole family. Fox News, "Mom's raw post on childhood cancer goes viral: 'It affects the entire family'," 10 Sep. 2019 Orphans are a heart-wrenching reminder of Africa’s challenges. John Fund, National Review, "We Can’t Afford to Forget Africa," 8 Sep. 2019 Love Actually, where a 2000 re-recording of the song plays mournfully over Emma Thompson's heart-wrenching discovery that her husband has been unfaithful. Billboard Staff, Billboard, "The 100 Best Songs of 1969: Staff Picks," 14 Aug. 2019 In Nassar's court cases, scores of his accusers told heart-wrenching stories of his abuse, and several blamed MSU for dismissing their complaints and failing to stop him. Elizabeth Joseph And Jason Hanna, CNN, "Larry Nassar's former boss at MSU gets a year in jail for misconduct and neglect of duty," 7 Aug. 2019 In her op-ed, Jayapal wrote of the heart-wrenching process of watching her child struggle in the months after birth. Anna North, Vox, "Rep. Pramila Jayapal’s story counters misconceptions about who gets abortions," 14 June 2019 That didn’t make the gut-wrenching goodbye any easier. Ryan Faircloth, Twin Cities, "‘An insult to child development’: MN prisons mull alternatives to incarceration for pregnant women," 8 Sep. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

And injuries could always throw a wrench in franchises’ plans. Alexa Philippou, courant.com, "How the Sun’s commitment to a core group of players helped them become one of the best teams in the WNBA — and within reach of a championship," 15 Sep. 2019 The earlier debt-limit deadline has thrown a wrench in negotiations over where to set federal spending levels next year. Kate Davidson, WSJ, "Mnuchin Says Treasury Could Run Out of Cash in Early September," 12 July 2019 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

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

13 Oct 2019

Look-up Popularity

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

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