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mid-14c., "flat part of a hinge," probably from Old English -twist (in mæsttwist "mast rope, stay;" candeltwist "wick"), from Proto-Germanic *twis-, from root of two. Original senses suggest "dividing in two" (cf. cognate Old Norse tvistra "to divide, separate," Gothic twis- "in two, asunder," Dutch twist, German zwist "quarrel, discord," though these senes have no equivalent in English), but later ones are of "combining two into one," hence the original sense of the word may be "rope made of two strands."
Meaning "thread or cord composed of two or more fibers" is recorded from 1550s. Meaning "act or action of turning on an axis" is attested from 1570s. Sense of "beverage consisting of two or more liquors" is first attested c.1700. Meaning "thick cord of tobacco" is from 1791. Meaning "curled piece of lemon, etc., used to flavor a drink" is recorded from 1958. Sense of "unexpected plot development" is from 1941.
The popular rock 'n' roll dance craze is from 1961, but twist was used to describe popular dances in 1894 and again in the 1920s. To get one's knickers in a twist "be unduly agitated" is British slang first attested 1971.
early 14c. (implied in past tense form twaste), "to wring," from the source of twist (n.). Sense of "to spin two or more strands of yarn into thread" is attested from late 15c. Meaning "to move in a winding fashion" is recorded from 1630s. To twist the lion's tail was U.S. slang (1895) for "to provoke British feeling." Related: Twisted; twisting.
To waste time; be forced to sit idly and perhaps rotate one's thumbs about one another: I was anxious to help, but all I could do was twiddle my thumbs while they debated (1846+)
vigorous dance that developed in the early 1960s in the United States and became internationally popular after its adoption in fashionable circles. The twist's characteristic hip, arm, and leg movements have been described as "drying the buttocks with an imaginary towel while grinding out an imaginary cigarette with one foot." Partners synchronized body positions and gyrations but never touched. Dances that evolved from the twist-for example, the frug and the watusi-were invariably performed by shaking the pelvis. In these dances partners only sometimes coordinated their movements. Among the suggested precursors of the twist are included the shimmy and the black bottom, and a song that was popular before 1910 included the lines "Mama, mama, where is sis? / Down on the levee doin' the double twis'."