Definition of writhe in English:

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Pronunciation: /rʌɪð/


[no object]
1Make twisting, squirming movements or contortions of the body: he writhed in agony on the ground (as adjective writhing) a writhing heap of maggots [with object]: a snake writhing its body
More example sentences
  • She squirmed and writhed and twisted, genuinely this time, but she was small anyway, and Sarah was strong, and so she wasn't going anywhere.
  • Taibhsear watched in awe as the great body writhed and twisted, and a new egg fell to join the others.
  • I twisted and twitched and writhed, but they wouldn't let me go.
squirm, wriggle, thrash, flounder, flail, toss, toss and turn, twitch, twist, twist and turn, roll, jiggle, wiggle, jerk, jolt
1.1 (writhe in/with/at) Respond with great emotional or physical discomfort to (an intense or unpleasant feeling or thought): she bit her lip, writhing in suppressed fury
More example sentences
  • They almost oscillate between the witty and tragic, and I found myself laughing and then writhing with discomfort.
  • The ensuing horn blast was loud enough to stun even the Elves, who immediately clapped their hands over their ears and writhed in discomfort.
  • She found great satisfaction in seeing him writhe in discomfort.


Old English wrīthan 'make into coils, plait, fasten with a cord', of Germanic origin; related to wreathe.

  • wrong from Old English:

    An Old English word from Old Norse rangr ‘awry, unjust’, which first meant ‘crooked, curved, or twisted’ and is related to wring (Old English). Until the 17th century the wr- would have been pronounced, and there was obviously something about the sound that suggested the idea of twisting—many English words beginning with wr-, such as wrist, writhe, and wreathe (all OE), contain the notion. Although to get the wrong end of the stick now means ‘to misunderstand something’, the original sense seems to have been ‘to come off worse’. The example in The Swell's Night Guide, a guide to London low life published in 1846, gives an idea of what was wrong with the ‘wrong end’: ‘Which of us had hold of the crappy…end of the stick?’ The proverb two wrongs don't make a right dates from the late 18th century. The Hungarian-born psychiatrist Thomas Szasz summed up the feelings of many when he said in 1973: ‘Two wrongs don't make a right, but they make a good excuse.’

Words that rhyme with writhe

blithe, lithe, scythe, tithe

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: writhe

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