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From Old Norse þvert[1] ‘across’, originally neut. of thverr (transverse, across), cognates include Old English þweorh (transverse, perverse, angry, cross), Danish tvær, Gothic 𐌸𐍅𐌰𐌹𐍂𐍃 (þwairs, angry), Dutch dwars (cross-grained, contrary), Low German dwars (cross-grained, contrary), German quer, from Proto-Germanic *þwerhaz, altered by influence of Proto-Germanic *þweraną (to turn) from Proto-Germanic *þerh-, from Proto-Indo-European *twork-/*twerk- (twist).


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

  1. (transitive) To prevent; to halt; to cause to fail; to foil; to frustrate.
    The police thwarted the would-be assassin.
    Our plans for a picnic were thwarted by the thunderstorm.
    • South
      The proposals of the one never thwarted the inclinations of the other.
    • 1918, W. B. Maxwell, chapter 22, 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.
    • 2006, Edwin Black, chapter 2, 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”, 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.
    • John Milton (1608-1674)
      Swift as a shooting star / In autumn thwarts the night.


Derived terms[edit]



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 doughout 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 terms[edit]



thwart (comparative more thwart, superlative most thwart)

  1. Situated or placed across something else; transverse; oblique.
    • Milton
      Moved contrary with thwart obliquities.
  2. (figuratively) Perverse; crossgrained.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Shakespeare to this entry?)



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).