Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A sudden sharp, forcible twist or turn.
  • n. An injury produced by twisting or straining.
  • n. A sudden tug at one's emotions; a surge of compassion, sorrow, or anguish.
  • n. A break or parting that causes emotional distress.
  • n. The pain so associated: felt a wrench when he was parted from his children.
  • n. A distortion in the original form or meaning of something written or spoken; twisted interpretation.
  • n. Any of various hand or power tools, often having fixed or adjustable jaws, used for gripping, turning, or twisting objects such as nuts, bolts, or pipes.
  • transitive v. To twist or turn suddenly and forcibly.
  • transitive v. To twist and sprain: I wrenched my knee.
  • transitive v. To move, extract, or force free by pulling violently; yank. See Synonyms at jerk1.
  • transitive v. To pull at the feelings or emotions of; distress: It wrenched her to watch them go.
  • transitive v. To distort or twist the original character or import of: wrenched the text to prove her point.
  • intransitive v. To give a wrench, twist, or turn.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. Trick; deceit; fraud; stratagem.
  • n. A violent twist, or a pull with twisting.
  • n. A sprain; an injury by twisting, as in a joint.
  • n. Means; contrivance.
  • n. An instrument, often a simple bar or lever with jaws or an angular orifice either at the end or between the ends, for exerting a twisting strain, as in turning bolts, nuts, screw taps, etc.; a screw key. Many wrenches have adjustable jaws for grasping nuts, etc., of different sizes.
  • n. The system made up of a force and a couple of forces in a plane perpendicular to that force. Any number of forces acting at any points upon a rigid body may be compounded so as to be equivalent to a wrench.
  • transitive v. To pull with a twist; to wrest, twist, or force by violence.
  • transitive v. To strain; to sprain; hence, to distort; to pervert.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A hose-coupling wrench or spanner. The hose-coupling union may have pins or tits on its exterior face, fitting a hole in the end of the curved bar or spanner; or the unions may have radial holes into which a tit on the end of the spanner may enter.
  • n. A crooked or tortuous action; a fraudulent device; a trick; a deceit; a stratagem.
  • n. A violent twist or turn given to something; a pulling awry: a sudden twisting out of shape, place, or relation: used of both material and immaterial things: as, to sprain one's foot by a wrench; the change was a great wrench to his feelings.
  • n. A sharp turn; specifically, in coursing, the turning of a hare at less than a right angle.
  • n. In mathematical physics, a force, or variation of force, tending to give a body a twist about an imaginary or real screw.
  • n. A tool consisting essentially of a bar of metal having jaws at one end adapted to catch upon the head of a bolt or a nut, or to hold a metal pipe or rod, so as to turn it.
  • n. Means of compulsion.
  • To twist or turn about with effort or violence; give a sudden twist to; hence, to distort; pervert; turn awry.
  • To injure or pain by a twisting action; produce a distorting effect in or upon; distort; sprain: as, to wrench one's ankle.
  • To pull or draw with torsion; extract by twisting or tortuous action; hence, to wrest forcibly or violently.
  • To have or undergo a wrenching motion; turn twistingly.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a hand tool that is used to hold or twist a nut or bolt
  • v. make a sudden twisting motion
  • n. a jerky pulling movement
  • n. a sharp strain on muscles or ligaments
  • v. twist and compress, as if in pain or anguish
  • v. twist suddenly so as to sprain
  • v. twist or pull violently or suddenly, especially so as to remove (something) from that to which it is attached or from where it originates

Etymologies

From Middle English wrenchen, to twist, from Old English wrencan.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Old English wrenċan, from Proto-Germanic *wrankijanan. Compare German renken. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • The tweaks are fun to fool around with for anyone who knows a wrench from a wildebeest, and not all that expensive.

    Turn Your Reel Into a Distance Machine

  • He shouldered a pick and shovel, took a hammer and a pipe-wrench from the tool-house, and returned to

    Chapter XXVII

  • And so it proved under the examination of the nearest practitioner, and then Derrick remembered a certain wrench and shock he had felt in Lowrie's last desperate efforts to recover himself.

    That Lass o' Lowrie's: A Lancashire Story

  • Creeping up on the flank by the left, Getty's troops succeeded in gaining the stone wall which we had been unable all day to wrench from the rebels.

    The Battle of Fredericksburg.

  • However, if something with low resistance, such as a metal wrench, is shorted across the two terminals of the battery, enough current will flow to melt the ends of the wrench onto the battery terminals (low voltage times very high current equals high power).

    The Latest on Air America

  • If you look at the box, the wrench is meant to sit in scratches hands behind his back, as if he’s preparing for a swing.

    PvPonline » 2009 » March » 12

  • Not with a wrench, which is impossible, but with saws and pliers.

    Matthew Yglesias » The Real Torture Debate

  • I can't call a wrench a palm tree just because I feel like it.

    So will Notre Dame need to cover 'Touchdown Jesus' for the Obama speech? | RELIGION Blog | dallasnews.com

  • Sharpe saw the French darting forward, kneeling, another stab of flame, and a ball clanged off the steel tip of his scabbard, making the sword wrench in its slings, and he heard the Rifles from the gatehouse and saw the man who had fired at him sink down, making small movements with one hand as if paddling the air for support, and then the Frenchman was crumpled on the turf.

    Sharpe's Enemy

  • Nevertheless every time the wrench was as keen as ever.

    The Romance of Isabel, Lady Burton

Comments

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  • "Back into the life he wants and the confession of the bench
    Life outside the diamond is a wrench"

    - Belle & Sebastian, "Piazza, New York Catcher"

    August 31, 2007