\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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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

Republicans wrested control of the Senate from Democrats. Chad Pergram, Fox News, "How potential government shutdown could throw wrench into Brett Kavanaugh confirmation," 31 July 2018 The Singapore summit was a real-time test of a general Trumpian foreign policy hypothesis: By functioning in a highly unpredictable manner, could the president cow allies and adversaries alike, wresting U.S. advantage from chaos? Mira Rapp-hooper, Washington Post, "The Singapore summit’s three big takeaways," 12 June 2018 The artist and the show’s organizers couldn’t have known that just as the show opened, U.S. immigration officers would begin a frontal attack on this maternal bond, wresting children from their parents and confining them in detention centers. Thomas Hine, Philly.com, "Philly artists' big, urgent show at Woodmere looks out from the rowhouse to the world," 21 June 2018 This place was built for actual Alaskans, the kind who know that June is a prize won only by wresting victory over February, a month so dark and relentless that its pain could only be salved by a raspberry scone the size of a rugby ball. Genevieve Roth, Bon Appetit, "Fire Island Rustic Bakeshop Gets Me Through the Long Alaskan Winter," 6 June 2018 At least seven countries have seized on Brexit as an opportunity to wrest away Britain’s five-decade dominance of wing construction for Airbus by pitching for a share of the high-value, precision manufacturing work. Alex Morales, Bloomberg.com, "Airbus CEO Vows to Stay in Post-Brexit U.K. Long Into Future," 22 Feb. 2018 Politesse is political; to wrest the floor from someone else is to bid for power, to assert importance or hurt or righteousness. Lily Janiak, San Francisco Chronicle, "Family is a miracle in SHN’s ‘The Humans’," 7 June 2018 But after Hamas wrested control of the strip a decade ago, Israel imposed a land and sea blockade on the enclave. Ruth Eglash, BostonGlobe.com, "Israel and Palestinians trade fire on Gaza border amid cease-fire talk," 31 May 2018 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

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

10 Dec 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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More from Merriam-Webster on wrest

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with wrest

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for wrest

Spanish Central: Translation of wrest

Nglish: Translation of wrest for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of wrest for Arabic Speakers

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a soft lustrous wool fabric with mohair

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