Open main menu

Wiktionary β




From Middle English writhen, from Old English wrīþan, from Proto-Germanic *wrīþaną “to weave, twist, turn” (compare Old High German rīdan “to wind, turn”, Old Norse ríða “to wind”), from Proto-Indo-European *wreyt- (to twist, writhe). Compare Lithuanian riēsti (to unbend, wind, roll).



writhe (third-person singular simple present writhes, present participle writhing, simple past writhed or (archaic) wrothe, past participle writhed or (archaic) writhen)

  1. (transitive) To twist, to wring (something).
  2. (transitive) To contort (a part of the body).
  3. (intransitive) To twist or contort the body; to be distorted.
    • 2011 October 1, Phil McNulty, “Everton 0-2 Liverpool”, in BBC Sport:
      The game was engulfed in controversy when Rodwell appeared to win the ball cleanly in a midfield challenge with Suarez. The tackle drew an angry response from Liverpool's players- Lucas in particular as Suarez writhed in agony - but it was an obvious injustice when the England Under-21 midfielder was shown the red card.

Part or all of this entry has been imported from the 1913 edition of Webster’s Dictionary, which is now free of copyright and hence in the public domain. The imported definitions may be significantly out of date, and any more recent senses may be completely missing.
(See the entry for writhe in
Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, G. & C. Merriam, 1913.)



writhe (plural writhes)

  1. (rare) A contortion.
  2. (knot theory) The number of negative crossings subtracted from the number of positive crossings in a knot