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Etymology 1Edit

From Middle English warp, werp, from Old English wearp, warp (a warp, threads stretched lengthwise in a loom, twig, osier), from Proto-Germanic *warpą (a warp), from Proto-Indo-European *werb- (to turn, bend). Cognate with Middle Dutch warp, Middle Low German warp, German Warf, Danish varp, Swedish varp.


warp (countable and uncountable, plural warps)

  1. (uncountable) The state, quality, or condition of being twisted, physically or mentally:
    1. (uncountable) The state, quality, or condition of being physically bent or twisted out of shape.
      • 1920, The British Journal of Photography, volume 67, page 246:
        All frames found to suffer from warp should be broken up straight away before the printer is tempted during a rush to make use of them.
      • (Can we date this quote?) Roland Johnson, Automotive Woodworking : Restoration, Repair and Replacement →ISBN:
        Rough lumber is rarely perfectly straight, and may suffer from warp,
      • 1992, Innovation, volumes 11-12, page 32:
        The part is not fragile, does not need benching to remove "stair-stepping" on curved surfaces and does not need post curing. It does not suffer from warp, sag or curl.
      • 1992, Progrès scientifique au service du bois (International Union of Forestry Research Organizations. Division 5. Conference), page 503:
        [] and Senft found that the fibril angle in both the Pinus and Populus was high in juvenile wood, indicating that both are likely to exhibit warp in drying.
    2. (uncountable) The state, quality, or condition of being deviant from what is right or proper morally or mentally.
      • 1933, Journal of the National Proctologic Association, volume 6, issue 5, page 126:
        He believed that we were suffering from warp or bias, that a blind spot contorted our mental vision.
      • 1966, Man and International Relations: Conflict, page 306:
        [] and may discover that the potency of this politician-father had so altered the freedom with which corrective authority could be imposed on his son that to an extraordinary extent the person as an adult continues to suffer from warp acquired at home as a child.
  2. (countable) A distortion:
    1. (countable) A distortion or twist, such as in a piece of wood (also used figuratively).
      • 1998, Gary May, Hard Oiler!: The Story of Canadians' Quest for Oil at Home, page 86:
        Wills, too, was struck down by a pole but was saved because a warp in the wood bent upwards, creating a pocket for his body.
      • 2014, July Crisis: The World's Descent into War, Summer 1914, page 396:
        In yet another ironic twist in a story richly endowed with such warps, the Tsar's telegram crossed one despatched in the other direction.
    2. (countable) A mental or moral distortion, deviation, or aberration.
      • 1905, Therapeutic Gazette, page 752:
        It is interesting to note that it has been suggested by Lugaro to partially extirpate the thyroid in cases of moral insanity; an excessive secretion of thyroid being regarded as the cause of excessive amativeness, thieving, and other mental warps []
  3. (weaving) The threads that run lengthwise in a woven fabric; crossed by the woof or weft.
  4. (figuratively) The foundation, the basis, the undergirding.
    • 1993, The Sociological Tradition →ISBN, page 251:
      The sense of sin (enforced by piacular rites) is as important to social integration as the committing of crimes (in due proportion) which alone can cause the mobilization of moral values that is the warp of society and of human conscience.
    • 2013, The WPA Guide to North Carolina: The Tar Heel State, page 388:
      This stretch is typical of the Piedmont section, where the warp of the economic structure is agriculture and the woof industry.
  5. (nautical) A line or cable or rode as is used in warping (mooring or hauling) a ship, and sometimes for other purposes such as deploying a seine or creating drag.
    • 1743, Robert Drury, The Pleasant, and Surprizing Adventures of Mr. Robert Drury, during his Fifteen Years Captivity on the Island of Madagascar, London, pp. 11-12,[1]
      We finish’d the Raft that Night, and in the Morning sent Mr. Prat, our Chief Mate, and four Men in the Boat with a long Rope for a Warp, to fasten on the Land.
    • 1966, Peter Tangvald, Sea Gypsy, page 24:
      [] trailed one of my sea anchors or at least some warps in order to ease the ship []
  6. A theoretical construct that permits travel across a medium without passing through it normally, such as a teleporter or time warp.
  7. A situation or place which is or seems to be from another era; a time warp.
    • 2003, Lynne B. Sagalyn, Times Square Roulette: Remaking the City Icon, page 67:
      If Times Square nevertheless remained a metaphor for the city's changing dynamics, it was stuck in a warp of immobility, unable to push itself forward as it had in the early part of the twentieth century.
    • 2012, Sîan Ede, Art and Science, page 68:
      Evolutionary psychology often seems to be stuck in a warp on the grassy African plains, even though we know that early humans didn't stay on the Savannah but moved from around 2 million years ago out of Africa into quite different terrains.
    • 2012, Richard Grossinger, Dark Pool of Light, Volume Three, page 105:
      To succeed routinely at mind-reading or telekinesis or love charms would result in no learning, no amusement, no spiritual growth (for a companion parable, check out Bill Murray's Groundhog Day). We would be stuck in a warp []
  8. The sediment which subsides from turbid water; the alluvial deposit of muddy water artificially introduced into low lands in order to enrich or fertilise them.
    • 1902, C. K. Eddowes, speaking before the Royal Commission on Salmon Fisheries, as recorded in the Parliamentary Papers, House of Commons, volume 13, page 99:
      The silt is brought down and the strong tide of the Humber brings it up in very large quantities, so that the river the whole way through nearly is exceedingly thick. Added to that I may say that we suffer from warp to a tremendous extent.
  9. (obsolete outside dialectal) A throw or cast, as of fish (in which case it is used as a unit of measure: about four fish, though sometimes three or even two), oysters, etc.
    a warp of fish
Derived termsEdit

Etymology 2Edit

From Middle English werpen, weorpen, worpen, from Old English weorpan (to throw, cast, cast down, cast away, throw off, throw out, expel, throw upon, throw open, drive away, sprinkle, hit, hand over, lay hands on (a person), cast lots, charge with, accuse of), from Proto-Germanic *werpaną (to throw, turn), from Proto-Indo-European *werb- (to bend, turn). Cognate with Scots warp (to throw, warp), North Frisian werpen (to throw), Dutch werpen (to throw, cast), German werfen (to throw, cast), Icelandic verpa (to throw).


warp (third-person singular simple present warps, present participle warping, simple past and past participle warped)

  1. To twist or become twisted, physically or mentally:
    1. (transitive) To twist or turn (something) out of shape; to deform.
      The moisture warped the board badly .
      to warp space and time
      The trauma had permanently warped her mind.
      • (Can we date this quote?) Coleridge
        The planks looked warped.
      • (Can we date this quote?) Tennyson
        Walter warped his mouth at this / To something so mock solemn, that I laughed.
      • 1918, W. B. Maxwell, chapter 16, in The Mirror and the Lamp:
        The preposterous altruism too! [] Resist not evil. It is an insane immolation of self—as bad intrinsically as fakirs stabbing themselves or anchorites warping their spines in caves scarcely large enough for a fair-sized dog.
    2. (intransitive) To become twisted out of shape; to deform.
      Over the years the post had warped and checked and needed to be replaced.
      • (Can we date this quote?) William Shakespeare
        One of you will prove a shrunk panel, and, like green timber, warp.
      • (Can we date this quote?) Moxon:
        They clamp one piece of wood to the end of another, to keep it from casting, or warping.
    3. (transitive) To deflect or turn (something) away from a true, proper or moral course; to pervert; to bias.
      His perspective had warped after his extreme experiences.
    4. (intransitive) To go astray or be deflected from a true, proper or moral course; to deviate.
  2. (transitive, intransitive, obsolete, ropemaking) To run (yarn) off the reel into hauls to be tarred.
    • 1830, William Burney, A New Universal Dictionary of the Marine:
      The usual method is to warp the yarn, either in whole or half hauls, []
    • 1852, Thomas Antisell, Hand-book of the Useful Arts: Including Agriculture, page 541:
      The next part of the process previous to tarring, is that of warping the yarns, or stretching them all to one length.
  3. (transitive) To arrange (strands of thread, etc) so that they run lengthwise in weaving.
  4. (transitive, intransitive, rare, obsolete, figuratively) To plot; to fabricate or weave (a plot or scheme).
    • (Can we date this quote?) Sternhold
      while doth he mischief warp
    • (Can we find and add a quotation of Nares to this entry?)
    • (Can we date this quote?), P. Holland, translating Plutarch, page 409:
      She acquainted the Greeks underhand with this treason, which was a warping against them.
  5. (transitive, rare, obsolete, poetic) To change or fix (make fixed, for example by freezing).
    • (Can we date this quote?) Shakespeare:
      though thou the waters warp
    • 1860, Robert Barnabas Brough, The Welcome Guest, page 273:
      On came the sleet, and hail, and snow, in thorough good earnest; on came the bitter biting wind, which is not so unkind as man's ingratitude; on came the frost, which warps the waters, but whose bite is not so nigh as benefits forgot,
    • 1876, Shakespeare's Comedy of As You Like it, page 134:
      Warp—contract and shrivel (here by freezing; in III, iii, 75, by drought). In the Thesaurus Linguarum of George Hicken, D.D., the great Anglo-Saxon scholar, 1642-1715, the Saxon proverb 'Winter shall warp water' is quoted, showing that the meaning of this word here is 'weave into a firm texture.' Propertius uses the same simile: 'Africus, in glaciem frigore nectit aquas.'—Elegies, IV, iii. (The south-west wind warps the waters into ice by its chilness.)
  6. To move:
    1. (transitive, nautical) To move a vessel by hauling on a line or cable that is fastened to an anchor or pier; (especially) to move a sailing ship through a restricted place such as a harbour.
      • 1883, Robert Louis Stevenson, Treasure Island
        We had a dreary morning's work before us, for there was no sign of any wind, and the boats had to be got out and manned, and the ship warped three or four miles around the corner of the island. []
      • 2011, Derek Lundy, The Way of a Ship: A Square-Rigger Voyage in the Last Days:
        At slack tide, the crew warped the ship into the lock that lowered the vessel down to river height,
    2. (intransitive, nautical, of a ship) To move or be moved by this method.
      • 1777, James Cook, A Voyage Towards the South Pole and Round the World:
        Having all our boats out with anchors and warps in them, which were presently run out, the ship warped into safety, where we dropt anchor for the night.
      • 2009, Arthur Kitson, The Life of Captain James Cook, page 148:
        A good anchorage was found at Tanna, and the ship warped close in.
    3. (intransitive, rare, dated) To fly with a bending or waving motion, like a flock of birds or insects.
      • (Can we date this quote?) John Milton
        A pitchy cloud / Of locusts, warping on the eastern wind.
      • 1844, William Harper, Cain and Abel: a dramatic poem; and minor pieces, page 74:
        Thou know'st, with trumpet tongue, they'll speak, despite / Detracting foes, unnumbered as the tribes / Of horned locusts, warped on dusky winds, []
      • 1884, John Addington Symonds, Vagabunduli Libellus, page 148:
        Pink cloudlets sail across the azure sky; The bees warp lazily on laden wing; []
      • 1941, Harper's Magazine, volume 184, page 421:
        Many bees warped and spun about us, and some even alighted on Grandfather's bare head, or on his neck. He did not disturb them.
    4. (transitive, intransitive) To travel or transport across a medium without passing through it normally, as by using a teleporter or time warp.
      • 2004, Travis S. Taylor, Warp Speed →ISBN:
        Then we warp a ball of atmosphere right out of the sky into the domes, and some fruit trees to go with them, and we also abduct some livestock.
      • 2012, Jonathan Henry, The Revelation of Earth: First Contact, page 188:
        Valerie asked why they couldn't warp to the planet.
  7. (transitive, intransitive, obsolete outside dialectal, of an animal) To bring forth (young) prematurely.
    • 1757, Edward Lisle, Observations in husbandry, volume 2, pages 113 and 200:
      They count a cow's warping her calf a month before her time not to be so bad as an ewe's losing her lamb.
      [A]n ewe that had warped her lamb very early might sometimes have another within the year[.]
    • 1807, General View of the Agriculture of the County of Gloucester, page 297:
      Some cows are perhaps by constitutional weakness, or bodily imperfection, more liable to warp than others; []
    • 1846, The Gardeners' Chronicle, volume 6, page 346:
      It was caused in the first instance by a single cow, which was purchased at a fair, and which cow warped, and it was only got rid of at last by changing the whole herd.
  8. (transitive, intransitive, agriculture) To fertilize (low-lying land) by letting the tide, a river, or other water in upon it to deposit silt and alluvial matter.
    • 1901 February 23, Yorkshire Weekly Post, quoted in the English Dialect Dictionary:
      Large fields are surrounded by embankments, dykes are cut, and sluice hates placed; when warping is in progress the gates all along the dykes to the tidal river, miles away, are opened.
  9. (transitive, very rare, obsolete) To throw.
    • 1822, James Hogg, Poetical Works, volume 2, page 144:
      They warped all his bowels about on the tide.
    • 1969, Intro, issue 2, page 164:
      time and again / i write you of our love for Jarrell. / the wind warps me in your tree / Delmore []
Derived termsEdit

Further readingEdit

  • warp at OneLook Dictionary Search
  • warp in The Century Dictionary, The Century Co., New York, 1911


Middle DutchEdit