noun, plural wreaths [reethz, reeths] .
a circular band of flowers, foliage, or any ornamental work, for adorning the head or for any decorative purpose; a garland or chaplet.
any ringlike, curving, or curling mass or formation: a wreath of clouds.
a curved section of a handrail.
Also called wreathpiece. a curved section of a string.
verb (used with object), verb (used without object)
to wreathe.

before 1000; Middle English wrethe, Old English writha something wound or coiled; akin to writhe

wreathlike, adjective

wraith, wreath, wreathe, writhe.
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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
wreath (riːθ)
n , pl wreaths
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
[Old English wrǣth, wrǣd; related to Middle Low German wrēden to twist. See writhe]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Word Origin & History

O.E. wriða "fillet, bandage, band" (lit. that which is wound around), from P.Gmc. *writhon (cf. O.N. riða, Dan. vride, O.H.G. ridan "to turn, twist," O.S., O.Fris. wreth "angry," Du. wreed "rough, harsh, cruel," O.H.G. reid "twisted," O.N. reiða "angry"), from PIE *wreit- "to turn, bend"
(cf. O.E. wriða "band," wriðan "to twist, torture," wraþ "angry"), from base *wer- "to turn, bend" (see versus). Meaning "ring or garland of flowers" is first recorded 1563.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Encyclopedia Britannica


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.

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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Example sentences
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.
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