writhe

verb
\ ˈrīt͟h How to pronounce writhe (audio) \
writhed; writhing

Definition of writhe

transitive verb

1a : 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

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Other Words from writhe

writhe noun

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.

Examples of writhe in a Sentence

She lay on the floor, writhing in pain. a nest of writhing snakes

Recent Examples on the Web

To Osanna, the results—tragic figures caught writhing or gasping for breath with their hands covering their mouths—are grim reminders of the precariousness of human existence. Chiara Goia, Smithsonian, "The New Treasures of Pompeii," 21 Aug. 2019 The woman refused to be handcuffed, pulling her arms away, thrashing and writhing in an effort to break free from officers. cleveland.com, "Woman’s shouting disturbs the peace at PEACE Park: Cleveland Heights Police Blotter," 12 July 2019 She was discharged in January from a Bay Area hospital and transported to a residential care home in distress, writhing in agony at times. Steve Lopezcolumnist, Los Angeles Times, "Column: After my mother’s disastrous hospice experience, we filed a state complaint. It came to nothing," 10 Aug. 2019 The video shows Timpa writhing at times and clearly struggling to breathe, asking the officers to stop pinning him down. Dallas News, "'You're gonna kill me!': Dallas police body cam footage reveals the final minutes of Tony Timpa's life," 30 July 2019 While her brother handled guitar and keys, high kicks and writhing were her instruments. August Brown, latimes.com, "Billie Eilish, music’s biggest anti-pop star, returns home a hero," 10 July 2019 The hognose snake will feign death by opening its mouth, rolling over on its back, and writhing around. Kelli Bender, PEOPLE.com, "'Famous' North Carolina 'Zombie' Snake Species Likes to Play Dead Before Striking Repeatedly," 11 June 2019 She is usually portrayed as a hideous clawed mother goddess, decked out in writhing serpents, with a grotesque necklace of dangling human hearts, skulls, and hands. Victor Davis Hanson, National Review, "The Cowardly Incoherence of Name-Changing, Statue-Toppling, and other Iconoclasms," 25 June 2019 To get hired by Elizabeth Streb’s company, applicants need certain skills—the potential to writhe inches below spinning steel beams, belly-flop off rafters and smash into plexiglass walls. Lauren Weber, WSJ, "Help Wanted: Must Enjoy Running Into Walls," 27 Feb. 2019

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.

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First Known Use of writhe

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a

History and Etymology for writhe

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

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Statistics for writhe

Last Updated

28 Aug 2019

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Time Traveler for writhe

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

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More Definitions for writhe

writhe

verb

English Language Learners Definition of writhe

: to twist your body from side to side

writhe

verb
\ ˈrīt͟h How to pronounce writhe (audio) \
writhed; writhing

Kids Definition of writhe

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

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More from Merriam-Webster on writhe

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with writhe

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for writhe

Spanish Central: Translation of writhe

Nglish: Translation of writhe for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of writhe for Arabic Speakers

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