twist the knife

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English[edit]

Etymology[edit]

Derived from the fact that the act of twisting a knife that is still inside someone who has just been stabbed will widen the wound and increase the pain that is already being suffered.

Verb[edit]

twist the knife (third-person singular simple present twists the knife, present participle twisting the knife, simple past and past participle twisted the knife)

  1. (idiomatic) To deliberately do or say something to worsen a difficult situation or increase a person's distress, irritation, or anger.
    • 2009, Lucy Dillon, Lost Dogs and Lonely Hearts, Berkley (2011), ISBN 9781101478752, page 198:
      "And I'm not seeing anyone," she added, just to twist the knife — in whom, she wasn't sure.

Synonyms[edit]