Definition from Wiktionary, the free dictionary
Jump to navigation Jump to search



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).


  • IPA(key): /ɹaɪð/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -aɪð


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.
  4. (transitive) To extort.



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