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wreath

[reeth] /riθ/
noun, plural wreaths
[reeth z, reeths] /riðz, riθs/ (Show IPA)
1.
a circular band of flowers, foliage, or any ornamental work, for adorning the head or for any decorative purpose; a garland or chaplet.
2.
any ringlike, curving, or curling mass or formation:
a wreath of clouds.
3.
  1. a curved section of a handrail.
  2. Also called wreathpiece. a curved section of a string.
verb (used with object), verb (used without object)
4.
to wreathe.
Origin
1000
before 1000; Middle English wrethe, Old English writha something wound or coiled; akin to writhe
Related forms
wreathlike, adjective
Can be confused
wraith, wreath, wreathe, writhe.
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Examples from the web for wreath
  • Even those who have never considered buying a wreath may be tempted this year.
  • Finds included metal vases, a gold wreath and weapons.
  • Nostrils pinched to block out water, an adult hippo stands in a wreath of dung stirred by its footsteps.
  • In all its ungainly, length up and down the island it will probably not receive a wreath.
  • Eucalyptus branches and pods impart a blue glow to a simple fir wreath.
  • Or a wreath covered in electric lights around a weird porcelain monkey head that has its mouth open in a scream.
  • Bay and rosemary leaves form a wreath that holds its fragrance for more than a week.
  • Place on greased round bread pan or cookie sheet and shape into a wreath.
  • Miniature carnations and spiky fir needles create a wreath that's both fragrant and strikingly elegant.
  • wreath cookies are bright and festive, whether bejeweled or simply frosted.
British Dictionary definitions for wreath

wreath

/riːθ/
noun (pl) wreaths (riːðz; riːθs)
1.
a band of flowers or foliage intertwined into a ring, usually placed on a grave as a memorial or worn on the head as a garland or a mark of honour
2.
any circular or spiral band or formation
3.
a spiral or circular defect appearing in porcelain and glassware
Derived Forms
wreathless, adjective
wreathlike, adjective
Word Origin
Old English wrǣth, wrǣd; related to Middle Low German wrēden to twist. See writhe
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for wreath
n.

Old English wriða "fillet, bandage, band" (literally "that which is wound around"), from Proto-Germanic *writhon (cf. Old Norse riða, Danish vride, Old High German ridan "to turn, twist," Old Saxon, Old Frisian wreth "angry," Dutch wreed "rough, harsh, cruel," Old High German reid "twisted," Old Norse reiða "angry"), from PIE *wreit- "to turn, bend" (cf. Old English wriða "band," wriðan "to twist, torture," wraþ "angry"), from root *wer- (3) "to turn, bend" (see versus). Meaning "ring or garland of flowers" is first recorded 1560s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Encyclopedia Article for wreath

circular garland, usually woven of flowers, leaves, and foliage, that traditionally indicates honour or celebration. The wreath in ancient Egypt was most popular in the form of a chaplet made by sewing flowers to linen bands and tying them around the head. In ancient Greece, wreaths, usually made of olive, pine, laurel, celery, or palm, were awarded to athletes victorious in the Olympic Games and as prizes to poets and orators. Young lovers in ancient Greece hung wreaths on their lovers' doorways as a sign of affection. In Rome also, laurel crowns were bestowed as a mark of honour, especially on civil officials and returning warriors. During the Italian Renaissance (c. 15th-16th centuries), the custom of wearing wreaths on festive occasions was revived. Later, in Victorian England, a floral wreath sometimes surrounded the chair of the guest of honour at a banquet.

Learn more about wreath with a free trial on Britannica.com
Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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