\ 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)

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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 The purpose of all these reforms was to wrest power from the grip of a domineering economic elite and place it in the hands of regular citizens. Win Mccormack, The New Republic, "From I to We," 17 Sep. 2020 Strategists believe law and order is an issue that could help him wrest the initiative back from Biden, who has a healthy poll lead. Rob Crilly, Washington Examiner, "Trump vows not to let mobs trample freedoms as he honors North Carolina WWII effort," 2 Sep. 2020 With its jubilant final act, the seasonal quartet assures that Smith will be studied for decades to come, a beacon to future readers eager to wrest meaning from our turbulent moment. Ali Smith, Star Tribune, "Review: 'Summer,' by Ali Smith," 21 Aug. 2020 To hold everything in place, New Jersey was the first state to try to wrest control of coastal sediment flows from nature by erecting seawalls and jetties and bulkheads, and today virtually none of its coastline is untouched by human intervention. Jen Schwartz, Scientific American, "Surrendering to Rising Seas," 1 Aug. 2018 The District 9 seat is one of the two races Florida Democrats are targeting in an attempt to wrest control of the Senate from Republicans for the first time in decades. Steven Lemongello, orlandosentinel.com, "Republican Brodeur and new group launch false attacks on Democrat Sigman in key Senate race," 3 Sep. 2020 Anthony Huber, who was carrying a skateboard, was shot in the chest after apparently trying to wrest the gun from Rittenhouse, the complaint said. Jonathan Lemire, Anchorage Daily News, "Trump fuels racial tensions with visit to Wisconsin city riven by protests over police shooting of Black man," 1 Sep. 2020 One man, identified as 26-year-old Anthony Huber, swung at Rittenhouse with his skateboard while trying to wrest the gun from the teen’s hands, prosecutors said. Washington Post, "In the midst of the fatal Kenosha shooting, one victim confronted the gunman with a skateboard," 30 Aug. 2020 Anthony Huber, 26, of Silver Lake, was shot in the chest after apparently trying to wrest the gun from Rittenhouse, the complaint said. Arkansas Online, "Teen charged in Kenosha killings stalls return to Wisconsin," 28 Aug. 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.

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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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Time Traveler for wrest

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for wrest

Last Updated

20 Sep 2020

Cite this Entry

“Wrest.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/wrest. Accessed 27 Sep. 2020.

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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

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