\ˈrest \
wrested; wresting; wrests

Definition of wrest 

(Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to pull, force, or move by violent wringing or twisting movements

2 : to gain with difficulty by or as if by force, violence, or determined labor



Definition of wrest (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : the action of wresting : wrench

2 archaic : a key or wrench used for turning pins in a stringed instrument (such as a piano)

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Synonyms for wrest

Synonyms: Verb

twist, wrench, wring

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Examples of wrest in a Sentence


He tried to wrest control of the company from his uncle. the boy wrested the book out of his sister's hands

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

For Karl Marx, whose 200th birthday passed this year, class named a person’s role in the way a society wrests its living from the earth and divides the value. Jedediah Purdy, The New Republic, "The Remaking of Class," 27 June 2018 The big question is whether the reboot of the film series that originally starred Angelina Jolie can wrest the weekend crown from ruling champ, Black Panther. Pamela Mcclintock, The Hollywood Reporter, "Weekend Box Office: 'Tomb Raider' Digs Up $2M in Previews; 'Love, Simon' Earns $850K," 16 Mar. 2018 Last week the stock rose nearly 20% as investors speculated AMD could wrest market share from Intel, whose chips are exposed to risks from possible Meltdown and Spectre attacks. Reuters, Fortune, "Microsoft Halted Some Patches to Guard Against Meltdown and Spectre: Here's Why," 9 Jan. 2018 Halep, who did not play any warm-up events on grass before Wimbledon, attributed her loss to fatigue from the first six months of the season, which included reaching the Australian Open final, wresting back the No. Ben Rothenberg, New York Times, "Another Day, Another Upset at Wimbledon: No. 1 Simona Halep Falls," 7 July 2018 Pompeo may be able to wrest some meaningful steps toward denuclearization out of Kim this week. Eric Talmadge, Fox News, "Analysis: After summit, Pompeo wants details from Kim," 4 July 2018 The dueling views of the bill's potential impact are the latest example of how immigration looms as a vote-moving issue this fall, when Democrats hope to wrest control of the House and perhaps the Senate from the GOP. CBS News, "Push by liberal Democrats’ to abolish ICE delights GOP," 13 July 2018 Thursday’s agreement comes after years of tense negotiations and follows moves by governments around the world, from the Democratic Republic of Congo to Tanzania, to wrest control of mines and take a bigger cut of profits. Amrith Ramkumar, WSJ, "Indonesia Moves Closer to Taking Controlling Stake in Freeport Copper Mine," 12 July 2018 Each is, in its way, about the author’s attempts to learn to wrest control of her life. Dwight Garner, New York Times, "Stepping Out of Character and Starting a New Story," 25 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

His arm was in front of his face, and his wrest deflected the blast and prevented him from ingesting a large amount. Andrew Theen, OregonLive.com, "Idaho boy's cyanide exposure forever links family, Eugene advocate over wildlife devices," 15 Mar. 2018

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


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


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for wrest


Middle English wrasten, wresten, from Old English wrǣstan; akin to Old Norse reista to bend and probably to Old English wrigian to turn — more at wry

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Statistics for wrest

Last Updated

15 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for wrest

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

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More Definitions for wrest



English Language Learners Definition of wrest

: to pull (something) away from someone by using violent twisting movements

: to take (something) from someone with much effort


\ˈrest \
wrested; wresting

Kids Definition of wrest

1 : to pull away by twisting or wringing I had to wrest my shoe from the dog's mouth.

2 : to obtain only by great and steady effort “For this is the day we are to conquer His Majesty the Scarecrow, and wrest from him the throne.”— L. Frank Baum, The Marvelous Land of Oz

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Comments on wrest

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


a state of commotion or excitement

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