Definition of writhe
1a : to twist into coils or foldsb : to twist so as to distort : wrenchc : to twist (the body or a bodily part) in pain
2 : intertwine
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
Examples of writhe in a sentence
She lay on the floor, writhing in pain.
a nest of writhing snakes
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
First Known Use: before 12th century
WRITHE Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of writhe for English Language Learners
: to twist your body from side to side
WRITHE Defined for Kids
Definition of writhe for Students
: 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).