follow Dictionary.com

Get our exclusive Word of the Day images!

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.

wreathe

[reeth] /rið/
verb (used with object), wreathed; wreathed or (Archaic) wreathen; wreathing.
1.
to encircle or adorn with or as with a wreath.
2.
to form as a wreath by twisting or twining.
3.
to surround in curving or curling masses or form.
4.
to envelop:
a face wreathed in smiles.
verb (used without object), wreathed; wreathed or (Archaic) wreathen; wreathing.
5.
to take the form of a wreath or wreaths.
6.
to move in curving or curling masses, as smoke.
Origin
1520-30; earlier wrethe, partly v. use of wreath, partly back formation from wrethen, obsolete past participle of writhe
Related forms
wreather, noun
interwreathe, verb, interwreathed, interwreathing.
Can be confused
wraith, wreath, wreathe, writhe.
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
Cite This Source
Examples for wreathed
  • We played on weekends, too, sometimes at tables wreathed in marijuana smoke.
  • The mayor had a handlebar moustache and a wide, brutal face, which was wreathed in cigarette smoke.
  • wreathed in ice fog, the ice shelf takes on the haziness of a mirage.
  • The forests were on fire- they however wreathed their necks with their hands.
  • Our laurels are wreathed for conquest, our songs for completed glory.
  • His cheeks were sole-gray, his face wreathed in sorrow.
  • In too many dynastic histories, the patriarch is wreathed in a storybook haze.
  • He lifts the masks from the dejected or the cynical and discovers faces wreathed in merriment.
  • Summer dawn comes gently, wreathed in birdsongs and soft rhythms of surf.
  • The bride-elect occupied a handsome antique chair which was wreathed with ferns and roses.
British Dictionary definitions for wreathed

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

wreathe

/riːð/
verb
1.
to form into or take the form of a wreath by intertwining or twisting together
2.
(transitive) to decorate, crown, or encircle with wreaths
3.
to move or cause to move in a twisting way smoke wreathed up to the ceiling
Word Origin
C16: perhaps back formation from wrēthen, from Old English writhen, past participle of wrīthan to writhe; see wreath
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
Cite This Source
Word Origin and History for wreathed
wreath
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.
wreathe
1530, a back-formation from wrethen, M.E. pp. of writhe.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Cite This Source
Encyclopedia Article for wreathed

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.
Cite This Source

Word of The Day

Difficulty index for wreath

Most English speakers likely know this word

Word Value for wreathed

15
14
Scrabble Words With Friends

Quotes with wreathed