\ ˈrest How to pronounce wrest (audio) \
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)

Keep scrolling for more

Examples of wrest in a Sentence

Verb 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 Its superior military, enhanced by Israeli- and Turkish-made drones purchased with Baku’s considerable oil wealth, has been able to wrest control of a number of the districts abutting Nagorno-Karabakh that had been in Armenian hands. Ishaan Tharoor, Washington Post, "The war in the Caucasus nears a bloody tipping point," 30 Oct. 2020 Democrats need to win both elections to wrest control, with Vice President-elect Kamala Harris as the tiebreaking vote. NBC News, "Georgia Senate race holds far-reaching implications — especially for LGBTQ Americans," 15 Dec. 2020 To wrest control, La Guardia staged pioneering photo ops—appearing at the scene of fires, smashing slot machines with a sledgehammer. Chris Smith, Town & Country, "What It Really Takes to Be the Mayor of New York City," 2 Dec. 2020 To wrest control, Republicans need to gain some 20 seats, but even the House GOP leadership has downplayed their chances. Lisa Mascaro, Star Tribune, "House already won? Pelosi thinks so, and reaches for more," 26 Oct. 2020 Democratic pastor and health care policy advocate Deb Patterson is challenging Boles, in her second attempt to wrest the seat from a Republican incumbent. oregonlive, "Oregon voters will decide whether to expand or check Democrats’ hold on the Legislature, as some Republican-held districts go increasingly blue," 24 Oct. 2020 Guaido was once seen as a promising figure for democracy in Venezuela, even receiving a standing ovation at Trump's State of the Union address earlier this year -- but global plaudits haven't helped him wrest actual control of the state from Maduro. Stephen Collinson And Stefano Pozzebon, CNN, "Everyone in Washington has Georgia on their mind," 7 Dec. 2020 Among officials who helped to wrest land from Black owners was Bluford M. Sims, a Confederate veteran considered an Ocoee founder and credited with naming it. Stephen Hudak, orlandosentinel.com, "Story of Ocoee Massacre finally being told - 100 years after it happened | Special Report," 29 Oct. 2020 Like civil rights icons before her, Justice Ginsburg worked to wrest some legal victories from a historically oppressive institution. Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw, The New Republic, "Don’t Reboot the 2016 Horror Show," 23 Oct. 2020

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about wrest

Time Traveler for wrest

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Statistics for wrest

Last Updated

12 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Wrest.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/wrest. Accessed 20 Jan. 2021.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for wrest


How to pronounce wrest (audio)

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 How to pronounce wrest (audio) \
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

Keep scrolling for more

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).


Test Your Vocabulary

Words of Snow and Ice Quiz

  • image1037863653
  • Which of the following refers to thin, bending ice, or to the act of running over such ice?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.


Anagram puzzles meet word search.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!