From Middle English writhen, from Old English wrīþan, from Proto-West Germanic *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”).
- (transitive) To twist, to wring (something).
- (transitive) To contort (a part of the body).
- 1906, Alfred Noyes, The Highwayman:
- She twisted her hands behind her; but all the knots held good.
- She writhed her hands till her fingers were wet with sweat or blood.
- They stretched and strained in the darkness, and the hours crawled by like years,
- Till, now, on the stroke of midnight,
- Cold, on the stroke of midnight,
- The tip of one finger touched it! The trigger at least was hers!
- (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.
- (transitive) To extort.
writhe (plural writhes)
- (rare) A contortion.
- (knot theory) The number of negative crossings subtracted from the number of positive crossings in a knot
- Alternative form of