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From Middle English thwert, a borrowing from Old Norse þvert (across)[1], originally neut. of þverr (transverse, across), from Proto-Germanic *þwerhaz, altered or influenced by Proto-Germanic *þweraną (to turn), from Proto-Germanic *þerh-, from Proto-Indo-European *twork-, *twerk- (to twist). Cognates include Old English þweorh (transverse, perverse, angry, cross), Danish tvær, Gothic 𐌸𐍅𐌰𐌹𐍂𐍃 (þwaírs, angry), West Frisian dwers (beyond, across, to the other side of), Dutch dwars (cross-grained, contrary), Low German dwars (cross-grained, contrary), German quer (crosswise; cross). Related to queer.



thwart (third-person singular simple present thwarts, present participle thwarting, simple past and past participle thwarted)

  1. (transitive) To prevent; to cause to fail
    The police thwarted the would-be assassin.
    Our plans for a picnic were thwarted by the thunderstorm.
    • ?1662 November 24th, Robert South, “Genesis i. 27. So God created Man in his own Image, in the Image of God created He him.” in Twelve Sermons Preached upon Several Occaſions (fifth edition, 1722), volume I, sermon ii, page 60:
      The Underſtanding and Will never diſagreed; for the Propoſals of the one never thwarted the Inclinations of the other.
    • 1918, W. B. Maxwell, chapter 22, in The Mirror and the Lamp:
      Not unnaturally, “Auntie” took this communication in bad part. [] Next day she [] tried to recover her ward by the hair of the head. Then, thwarted, the wretched creature went to the police for help; she was versed in the law, and had perhaps spared no pains to keep on good terms with the local constabulary.
    • 2004, Peter Bondanella, Hollywood Italians: Dagos, Palookas, Romeos, Wise Guys, and Sopranos, chapter 4, 231–232:
      The film ends with the colorful deaths of Nico's enemies after he thwarts their attempts to assassinate a U.S. Senator investigating ties between drug dealers and the CIA.
    • 2006, Edwin Black, chapter 2, in Internal Combustion[1]:
      More than a mere source of Promethean sustenance to thwart the cold and cook one's meat, wood was quite simply mankind's first industrial and manufacturing fuel.
    • 2011 December 10, David Ornstein, “Arsenal 1-0 Everton”, in BBC Sport:
      Everton were now firmly on the back foot and it required some sharp work from Johnny Heitinga and Phil Jagielka to thwart Walcott and Thomas Vermaelen.
  2. (obsolete) To move across or counter to; to cross.
    An arrow thwarts the air.
    • (Can we date this quote?) John Milton
      Swift as a shooting star / In autumn thwarts the night.


Derived termsEdit



thwart (plural thwarts)

  1. (nautical) A brace, perpendicular to the keel, that helps maintain the beam (breadth) of a marine vessel against external water pressure and that may serve to support the rail.
    A well made dugout canoe rarely needs a thwart.
  2. (nautical) A seat across a boat on which a rower may sit.
    The fisherman sat on the aft thwart to row.

Related termsEdit



thwart (comparative more thwart, superlative most thwart)

  1. Situated or placed across something else; transverse; oblique.
    • (Can we date this quote?) John Milton
      Moved contrary with thwart obliquities.
    • (Can we date this quote?) William Morris
      ... wall of forty feet space endlong and over-thwart.
  2. (figuratively) Perverse; crossgrained.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Shakespeare to this entry?)
    • (Can we date this quote?) Francis Bacon
      And it is without all controversy, that learning doth make the minds of men gentle, generous, maniable, and pliant to government; whereas ignorance makes them churlish, thwart, and mutinous []



thwart (not comparable)

  1. Obliquely; transversely; athwart.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Milton to this entry?)



  1. ^ thwart” in Douglas Harper, Online Etymology Dictionary, 2001–2019.