\ 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 events were intended to persuade legislators to wrest control of the election certification process and demand further investigation. Washington Post, "Russell J. Ramsland Jr. sold everything from Tex-Mex food to light-therapy technology. Then he sold the story that the 2020 election was stolen from Trump.," 9 May 2021 Republicans also charge that the bill is an unconstitutional attempt by the federal government to wrest control of elections from the states. Hunter Woodall, Star Tribune, "Sen. Amy Klobuchar's big test: Shepherding election reform," 6 May 2021 Annie is there to wrest the territory from the Beggar King; Amalia is there to convince Annie, a free agent since quitting Maladie’s crew, to join her own girl gang. Amanda Whiting, Vulture, "The Nevers Recap: Hold the Phone," 25 Apr. 2021 In the 1850s proslavery expansionists argued that the only way to suppress the slave trade was to wrest the island of Cuba from Spain. James Oakes, The New York Review of Books, "Why Did the Slave Trade Survive So Long?," 23 Mar. 2021 As a result, LAFC has gone from being a dangerous and dynamic goal-scoring machine into a team that has had to wrest out narrow results in its first two games, with Bradley already using 19 players. Kevin Baxter, Los Angeles Times, "Soccer newsletter: European Super League idea is gone, but not dead yet," 27 Apr. 2021 The bill would also wrest election authority from Georgia’s secretary of state, allowing the legislature instead to appoint a chair of the state election board. Nikolas Lanum, Fox News, "Graham: 'Sick' for Biden to 'play the race card' on Georgia election law, filibuster," 28 Mar. 2021 Critics of the various bills under consideration argue that many of the proposals would wrest land use decisions away from local control and strip Connecticut towns of their distinctive qualities. Eliza Fawcett, courant.com, "Connecticut is divided into largely white suburbs and cities where more people of color live. Here’s how advocates want to rewrite local zoning rules to change that," 31 Mar. 2021 Pressure is also mounting on the West Wing to wrest control of the border situation as more lawmakers travel to the area. Katherine Doyle, Washington Examiner, "Biden protects GOP who say they won't consider immigration bill until border crisis resolved," 25 Mar. 2021

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

12 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Wrest.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/wrest. Accessed 12 May. 2021.

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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 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

More from Merriam-Webster on wrest

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for wrest

Nglish: Translation of wrest for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of wrest for Arabic Speakers

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