writhe

verb \ ˈrīt͟h \
Updated on: 25 Nov 2017

Definition of writhe

writhed; writhing
transitive verb
1 a : to twist into coils or folds
b : to twist so as to distort : wrench
c : to twist (the body or a bodily part) in pain
intransitive verb
1 : to move or proceed with twists and turns
  • writhed to the music
2 : to twist from or as if from pain or struggling
3 : to suffer keenly

writhe

noun

writhe was our Word of the Day on 01/03/2014. Hear the podcast!

Examples of writhe in a Sentence

  1. She lay on the floor, writhing in pain.

  2. a nest of writhing snakes

Recent Examples of writhe from the Web

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'writhe.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Did You Know?

Writhe wound its way to English from the Old English verb wrīthan ("to twist") and is akin to the Old English verb wrigian ("to turn or go"). Wrigian gave us our words wriggle, awry, and wry. When something wriggles it twists from side to side with quick movements, like an earthworm. When something goes awry, its twists or winds off course, or toward catastrophe. Wry can mean "bent or twisted" but now usually implies clever, ironic humor. Nowadays, writhe often suggests the physical contortions one makes when enduring crippling pain or when trying to extract oneself from a tight grasp (as an animal from a predator's claws). Alternatively, it can imply an emotionally wrenching feeling (as of grief or fear) from which one seeks relief.

Origin and Etymology of writhe

Middle English, from Old English wrīthan; akin to Old Norse rītha to twist

writhe Synonyms


WRITHE Defined for English Language Learners

writhe

verb

Definition of writhe for English Language Learners

  • : to twist your body from side to side


WRITHE Defined for Kids

writhe

verb \ ˈrīt͟h \

Definition of writhe for Students

writhed; writhing
: to twist and turn from side to side
  • She was writhing in pain.


Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up writhe? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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

WORD OF THE DAY

an inference not connected logically

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Find the Cousins

  • a-large-tree-with-many-branches
  • Which pair shares a common word ancestor?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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