Definition of wreathe in English:

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Pronunciation: /riːð/


[with object]
1Cover, surround, or encircle: he sits wreathed in smoke
More example sentences
  • Madeira's is a mountainous interior, mysteriously wreathed by a cover of clouds.
  • Holmes was sitting wreathed in tobacco smoke and looked up.
  • Instead, Jones was wreathed in smiles which gave way to a brief cry as she stopped in front of her mother, also Marion, and other members of the family who had travelled to Sydney.
1.1 [with object and adverbial of direction] literary Twist or entwine (something flexible) round or over something: shall I once more wreathe my arms about Antonio’s neck?
More example sentences
  • One plant had wreathed itself round a statue of Vertumnus, which was thus quite veiled and shrouded in a drapery of hanging foliage, so happily arranged that it might have served a sculptor for a study.
  • Dried flowers wreathed around a small silver-hilted dagger carved into the shape of a dragon, and several tarot cards showed their faces next to it.
  • She climbed upon its back, wreathing flowers around its horns.
1.2 [no object, with adverbial of direction] (Especially of smoke) move with a curling motion: he watched the smoke wreathe into the night air
More example sentences
  • When she looked at the fire, it was blurred, and the smoke wreathed lazily; she stared intently at that smoke, pretending she could see each and every particle, that she was as small as they were.
  • Her voice chilled him farther than her hands did, hissing like dried ice and dying smoke as it wreathed over his head and sucked into his mouth and clung damp to his lungs.
  • We headed back along Lake Cuber as cloud came wreathing among the mountain tops, bringing with it fierce rain.
2Form (flowers, leaves, or stems) into a wreath.
Example sentences
  • In a bower in the Duke of Normandy’s garden at Bayeux Princess Adela and her maidens are singing and wreathing flowers.
  • In the boughs of the trees more cupids are wreathing flowers and fruit.


be wreathed in smiles

Be smiling broadly: his tanned face was wreathed in smiles
More example sentences
  • At the checkout, there was an Asian girl wreathed in smiles.
  • The world's second richest man is wreathed in smiles.
  • Reid's face wreathed in smiles at this morning's meeting.


Mid 16th century: partly a back-formation from archaic wrethen, past participle of writhe, reinforced by wreath.

  • 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 wreathe

bequeath, breathe, enwreathe, Meath, seethe, sheathe, teethe

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: wreathe

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