Word curio icon

Word Curio

April 24, 2019

Word of the Day: Writhe

2 CQ

Word of the Day : April 24, 2019

writhe \RYTHE\ verb


1 : to move or proceed with twists and turns

2 : to twist from or as if from pain or struggling

3 : to suffer keenly

Did You Know?

Writhe wound its way into English from the Old English verb wrīthan ("to twist") and is akin to the Old English verb wrigian ("to turn or go"). Wrigian gave us our words wriggle, awry, and wry. When something wriggles, it twists from side to side with quick movements, like an earthworm. When something goes awry, it twists or winds off course, often toward catastrophe. Wry can mean "bent or twisted" but usually implies clever, ironic humor. These days, writhe often suggests the physical contortions one makes when enduring crippling pain or when trying to extract oneself from a tight grasp (as an animal from a predator's claws). Alternatively, it can imply an emotionally wrenching feeling (as of grief or fear) from which one seeks relief.

Aired April 24, 2019

All Merriam-Webster content is available at

  • Recommended Recommended
  • History & In Progress History
  • Browse Library
  • Most Popular Library

Get Personalized Recommendations

Let us help you figure out what to learn! By taking a short interview you’ll be able to specify your learning interests and goals, so we can recommend the perfect courses and lessons to try next.

Start Interview

You don't have any lessons in your history.
Just find something that looks interesting and start learning!

500 characters max