\ 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


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

On the whole, apart from a brief glimmer of promise late last year when Congress wrested three Hindi heartland states from the BJP, the Nehru-Gandhi scion has proved no match for Mr. Modi and his chief consigliere, BJP President Amit Shah. Sadanand Dhume, WSJ, "It’s Game Over for the Gandhis as a Political Dynasty Dies," 11 July 2019 White House officials say that eliminating that secrecy could be a truly disruptive change that could lower health care prices and reorder the health care system by wresting power away from industry and into the hands of patients. Reed Abelson, BostonGlobe.com, "Trump order aims to disclose ‘real’ costs for health care," 24 June 2019 The Blues’ discipline issues resurfaced again and this time the Bruins cashed in and wrested away the momentum going home for Game 7. Stephen Whyno, The Denver Post, "Big, bad Bruins are back, force Stanley Cup Final Game 7 vs. Blues," 9 June 2019 The last hard patriotic triumph in most Brit’s recall was Margaret Thatcher’s 1982 invasion of an obscure dot in the South Atlantic, the Falkland Islands, to wrest it back from another country no one has time to read about, Argentina. Tina Brown, Time, "Tina Brown: How Britain Lost the Plot Over Brexit," 6 June 2019 University leaders for years have lobbied Springfield heavily for more funding, and collaborated in a statewide campaign this spring to wrest more dollars for operations and long overdue construction projects. Dawn Rhodes, chicagotribune.com, "How much money are Illinois colleges getting in the new budget? ‘It’s definitely good news for colleges and universities.’," 19 June 2019 By 1930, Congress was ready to wrest control of the spigot. Tristan Baurick, nola.com, "Creating a waterborne interstate for commerce: The River’s Revenge," 15 June 2019 The very first scene, in fact, opens with MIB agents wresting possession of a convoy of undocumented migrants from border patrol, a scene that reads very differently in our current climate. Anne Cohen, refinery29.com, "Even Tessa Thompson & Chris Hemsworth Can't Make MIB: International Memorable," 13 June 2019 Raising the stakes, the Massachusetts State Track Coaches Association launched an unprecedented plan to wrest control of track and cross-country tournaments from the MIAA. Bob Hohler, BostonGlobe.com, "‘The hard part is, there’s no crystal ball’: MIAA facing its worst financial crunch," 15 June 2019

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

23 Jul 2019

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 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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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

Comments on wrest

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something desired as essential

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