Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • intransitive verb To make twisting bodily movements, as in pain or struggle.
  • intransitive verb To move with a twisting or contorted motion.
  • intransitive verb To suffer emotional or physical distress, as from embarrassment or anguish.
  • intransitive verb To cause to twist or squirm; contort.
  • noun The act or an instance of writhing.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun A contortion of form or features, as from pain or other emotion; an act of writhing.
  • noun The band of a fagot.
  • To turn and twist about; twist out of shape or position; wrench; contort.
  • To wrest perversely; wrest; pervert.
  • To wrench; wring; extort.
  • To move or stir in a twisting or tortuous manner; twist about, as from pain, distress, or stimulation.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • intransitive verb To twist or contort the body; to be distorted. Also used figuratively.
  • transitive verb To twist; to turn; now, usually, to twist or turn so as to distort; to wring.
  • transitive verb To wrest; to distort; to pervert.
  • transitive verb rare To extort; to wring; to wrest.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • verb transitive To twist, to wring (something).
  • verb transitive To contort (a part of the body).
  • verb intransitive To twist or contort the body; to be distorted.
  • noun knot theory The number of negative crossings subtracted from the number of positive crossings in a knot

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

  • verb to move in a twisting or contorted motion, (especially when struggling)

Etymologies

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

[Middle English writhen, from Old English wrīthan; see wer- in Indo-European roots.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Middle English writhen, from Old English wrīþan, from Proto-Germanic *wrīþanan 'to twist, turn' (cf. Old High German rīdan 'to turn', Old Norse ríða 'to wind'), from Proto-Indo-European (compare Lithuanian riēsti 'to unbend, wind, roll').

Examples

  • With a thin writhe of a smile, Collins investigated the insides of her clenched hands to make sure that the hooks were connected.

    CHAPTER XXV

  • With a thin writhe of a smile, Collins investigated the insides of her clenched hands to make sure that the hooks were connected.

    Chapter 25

  • Rickie had the projector turned on and pointed toward the living room wall, watched the python writhe on the ground.

    Miracles, Inc.

  • I haven't blogged lately because I've been so sick all I can do is sleep, throw up, writhe in pain or blow my nose and I pretty much don't want to do anything more complex than play Peggle.

    Archive 2009-04-01

  • Yoga used to make a Christian nation writhe; now it has become an embodiment of the country's religious and social elasticity.

    Leigh E. Schmidt: The History Of Yoga And Religion In America

  • Here we have an near-omnipotent, near-invulnerable, time-traveling walking knife drawer that - if it doesn't turn you into sushi while dodging every weapon that you throw at it - takes you home so it can impale you alive in its front yard where you get to writhe in agony forever while it looks on like the silent mega-badass it is.

    MIND MELD: What Are The Coolest Robots in Science Fiction?

  • In studying a 13th-century scroll where nine scaly dragons writhe through a sepia mist, Mr. Li focused on a spot near the center where the brume twists into a spiral.

    How to Talk Back to a Chinese Master

  • I haven't blogged lately because I've been so sick all I can do is sleep, throw up, writhe in pain or blow my nose and I pretty much don't want to do anything more complex than play Peggle.

    Dear World

  • The maggots, starved for oxygen, writhe and jump in the bag, creating a "pitter-patter" sound.

    Boing Boing

  • The badger will squeal and writhe around, clawing the Man mercilessly as the Man begins to intensify the beating and his repetition.

    Jennifer Lopez to Star in Overboard Remake | /Film

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