From Wiktionary, the free dictionary
Jump to navigation Jump to search



The adjective is derived from Early Middle English thwert, thwerte, thuart, thurt, thurte, thwart, thwarte, twart, twarte, twhart, twhert, twort, þuert, þwerrt, þwert, þwerte, ðwert (crosswise, transverse; counter, opposing; contrary, obstinate),[1] borrowed from Old Norse þvert (across, athwart), originally the neuter form of þverr (across, transverse),[2] from Proto-Germanic *þwerhaz (cross; adverse) (altered or influenced by Proto-Germanic *þweraną (to stir; to swirl; to turn)), from Proto-Germanic *þerh-, probably from Proto-Indo-European *terkʷ- (to spin; to turn).

The English adjective is cognate with Danish tvær (sullen, sulky), Gothic 𐌸𐍅𐌰𐌹𐍂𐍃 (þwairs, angry), Middle Dutch dwers, dwars (modern Dutch dwars (crosswise, transverse; slantwise, askew; stubbornly disobedient)), Norwegian tvert, tvært, Old Frisian þweres, dwers (Saterland Frisian twars, West Frisian dwers, dwerz (across, to the other side of; beyond)), Middle Low German dwers, dwars (Low German dwars (contrary; cross-grained)), Old English þweorh (transverse; perverse; angry, cross), Old High German twer (Middle High German twer, quer, modern German quer (crosswise; cross)), Swedish tvär (across, transverse; of a curve: sharp; immediate, sudden; grumpy, stubborn).[2] It is related to queer; also Proto-West Germanic *þwerh,

The adverb is derived from Middle English thwert, ywerte (crosswise; across the grain); the Middle English Dictionary suggests the adverb was derived from the adjective,[3] while the Oxford English Dictionary notes that the adverb is attested earlier than the adjective.[2]

The verb is derived from Middle English thwerten, thwert, thwarten, þwerten (to lie across; to oppose, to thwart),[4] and further from the adverb[5] and perhaps also the adjective.[4]

Noun sense 1 (“a seat across a boat on which a rower may sit”) may be derived from the adverb or adjective, from the position of the seat across the length of the boat,[6] while noun sense 3 (“(rare) an act of thwarting”) is derived from the verb.[7] Compare Middle English thwert (in in thwert: crosswise), from the adjective.[8]



thwart (comparative more thwart, superlative most thwart)

  1. Placed or situated across something else; cross, oblique, transverse.
    • 1667, John Milton, “Book VII”, in Paradise Lost. [], London: [] [Samuel Simmons], [], →OCLC; republished as Paradise Lost in Ten Books: [], London: Basil Montagu Pickering [], 1873, →OCLC, lines 768–773:
      Which elſe to ſeveral Sphears thou muſt aſcribe,
      Mov'd contrarie with thwart obliquities,
      Or ſave the Sun his labour, and that ſwift
      Nocturnal and Diurnal rhomb ſuppos'd,
      Inviſible elſe above all Starrs, the Wheele
      Of Day and Night; []
  2. (figuratively, dated) Of people: having a tendency to oppose; obstinate, perverse, stubborn.
    Synonyms: cross-grained, froward; see also Thesaurus:obstinate
  3. (figuratively, dated) Of situations or things: adverse, unfavourable, unlucky.
    Synonyms: unpropitious, untoward; see also Thesaurus:unlucky

Derived terms[edit]

Related terms[edit]



thwart (not comparable)

  1. (obsolete) Across the direction of travel or length of; athwart, crosswise, obliquely, transversely.




  1. (archaic or poetic) Across, athwart.


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

  1. (transitive) To cause to fail; to frustrate, to prevent.
    Synonyms: balk, foil, spoil
    Antonym: promote
    Our plans for a picnic were thwarted by the thunderstorm.
    The police thwarted the would-be assassin.
    • 1590, T[homas] L[odge], “Alindas Comfort to Perplexed Rosalynd”, in Rosalynde. Euphues Golden Legacie: [], London: [] Thomas Orwin for T. G[ubbin] and John Busbie, →OCLC; republished [Glasgow]: [ [] Hunterian Club], [1876], →OCLC, folio 13, verso, page 34:
      If thou grieueſt that beeing the daughter of a Prince, and enuie thwarteth thée with ſuch hard exigents, thinke that royaltie is a faire marke; that Crownes haue croſſes when mirth is in Cottages; that the fairer the Roſe is, the ſooner it is bitten with Catterpillers; []
    • 1662 November 9, Robert South, “[Sermon II] A Sermon Preached at the Cathedral-Church of St. Paul’s, November the 9th, 1662: 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, 5th edition, volume I, London: Printed for Jonah Bowyer, [], published 1722, →OCLC, page 60:
      The Underſtanding and Will never diſagreed; for the Propoſals of the one never thwarted the Inclinations of the other.
    • 1830, Walter Scott, “Auchindrane; or, The Ayrshire Tragedy”, in The Doom of Devorgoil, a Melo-drama; Auchindrane; or, The Ayrshire Tragedy, Edinburgh: [] [Ballantyne and Company] for Cadell and Company; London: Simpkin and Marshall, →OCLC, Act III, scene i, page 309:
      Hear ye the serf I bred, begin to reckon
      Upon his rights and pleasure! Who am I—
      Thou abject, who am I, whose will thou thwartest?
    • 1918, W[illiam] B[abington] Maxwell, chapter XLIV, in The Mirror and the Lamp, Indianapolis, Ind.: The Bobbs-Merrill Company, →OCLC, page 361:
      Not unnaturally, "Auntie" took this communication in bad part. Thus outraged, she showed herself to be a bold as well as a furious virago. Next day she found her way to their lodgings and 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, “Wise Guys: Hollywood Italian Gangsters”, in Hollywood Italians: Dagos, Palookas, Romeos, Wise Guys, and Sopranos, New York, N.Y.: Continuum International Publishing Group, →ISBN, pages 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, “Power Struggle”, in Internal Combustion: How Corporations and Governments Addicted the World to Oil and Derailed the Alternatives, New York, N.Y.: St. Martin’s Press, →ISBN, →OL:
      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[1], archived from the original on 13 December 2011:
      Everton were now firmly on the back foot and it required some sharp work from Johnny Heitinga and Phil Jagielka to thwart [Theo] Walcott and Thomas Vermaelen.
  2. (transitive, obsolete) To place (something) across (another thing); to position crosswise.
  3. (transitive, also figuratively, obsolete) To hinder or obstruct by placing (something) in the way of; to block, to impede, to oppose.
    Synonyms: see Thesaurus:hinder
  4. (transitive, intransitive, obsolete) To move (something) across or counter to; to cross.
    An arrow thwarts the air.


Derived terms[edit]



A rowboat with three thwarts (sense 1) in Lake Maria State Park, Minnesota, USA
The thwarts (sense 2) of this canoe support its structure

thwart (plural thwarts)

  1. (nautical) A seat across a boat on which a rower may sit.
    Synonyms: thaught, thawt, (Britain, dialectal) thoft
    The fisherman sat on the aft thwart to row.
    • [1876–1879?], “Our Holiday. Rowing.—I.”, in The Popular Educator: A Complete Encyclopædia of Elementary, Advanced, and Technical Education, new and revised edition, volume IV, London, New York, N.Y.: Cassell, Petter, and Galpin, [], →OCLC, page 32, column 2:
      When taking his seat in a boat, the learner should first observe that the thwart is firmly fixed, and that the mat upon it is securely tied to that part of it which is farthest from his rowlock.
      A diagram of a boat, showing its thwarts, appears on the page.
  2. (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.
    • 1773, “Of the Canoes and Navigation of the Inhabitants of New Zealand; []”, in John Hawkesworth, editor, An Account of the Voyages Undertaken by the Order of His Present Majesty for Making Discoveries in the Southern Hemisphere, [] In Three Volumes, volume III, Printed for W[illiam] Strahan and T[homas] Cadell [], →OCLC, book II, page 58:
      A conſiderable number of thwarts were laid from gunwale to gunwale, to which they were ſecurely laſhed on each ſide, as a ſtrengthening to the boat [a canoe].
    • 1800, Michael Symes, chapter VII, in An Account of an Embassy to the Kingdom of Ava, by the Governor-General of India, in the Year 1795, London: Printed by W[illiam] Bulmer and Co., []; and sold by Messrs. G[eorge] and W[illiam] Nicol, []; and J[ohn] Wright, [], →OCLC, page 223:
      My barge was sixty feet in length, and not more than twelve in the widest part; by taking away one thwart beam near the stern, laying a floor two feet below the gunwale, and raising an arched roof about seven feet above the floor, a commodious room was formed, fourteen feet long, and ten wide, with a closet behind it; []
    • 2015, Cliff Jacobson, “Outfitting and Customizing Your Canoe”, in Canoeing Wild Rivers: The 30th Anniversary Guide to Expedition Canoeing in North America, 5th edition, Guildford, Conn., Helena, Mont.: Falcon Guides, Rowman & Littlefield, →ISBN, page 66:
      I looked down into the Old Town [a canoe]; there was no yoke, only a straight ash thwart.
  3. (rare) An act of thwarting; something which thwarts; a hindrance, an obstacle.



  1. ^ thwert, adj.”, in MED Online, Ann Arbor, Mich.: University of Michigan, 2007, retrieved 5 August 2019.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 thwart, adv., prep., and adj.”, in OED Online Paid subscription required, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, 1912; thwart, prep. and adv.”, in Lexico,; Oxford University Press, 2019–2022.
  3. ^ thwert, adv.”, in MED Online, Ann Arbor, Mich.: University of Michigan, 2007, retrieved 5 August 2019.
  4. 4.0 4.1 thwerten, v.”, in MED Online, Ann Arbor, Mich.: University of Michigan, 2007, retrieved 5 August 2018.
  5. ^ thwart, v.”, in OED Online Paid subscription required, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, 1912; thwart, v.”, in Lexico,; Oxford University Press, 2019–2022.
  6. ^ thwart, n.2”, in OED Online Paid subscription required, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, 1912; thwart, n.”, in Lexico,; Oxford University Press, 2019–2022.
  7. ^ thwart, n.1”, in OED Online Paid subscription required, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, 1912.
  8. ^ thwert, n.”, in MED Online, Ann Arbor, Mich.: University of Michigan, 2007, retrieved 5 August 2019.

Further reading[edit]