9 Grammatical Pitfalls


[rahyth] /raɪð/
verb (used without object), writhed, writhing.
to twist the body about, or squirm, as in pain, violent effort, etc.
to shrink mentally, as in acute discomfort.
verb (used with object), writhed, writhing.
to twist or bend out of shape or position; distort; contort.
to twist (oneself, the body, etc.) about, as in pain.
a writhing movement; a twisting of the body, as in pain.
Origin of writhe
before 900; Middle English writhen (v.), Old English wrīthan to twist, wind; cognate with Old Norse rītha to knit, twist; akin to wreath, wry
Related forms
writher, noun
writhingly, adverb
Can be confused
wraith, wreath, wreathe, writhe.
1. thresh, flail, contort, wriggle. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for writhed
  • The tangle of snakes writhed and curled on her head, sometimes reaching down to tickle her face with their tiny tongues.
  • Another was trapped against a wall and writhed as an officer shot rubber bullets at him, again.
  • Each writhed in fake agony when calls late in the game did not go his way.
  • Some people writhed on the sidewalk, pounding the concrete with their hands.
  • But none of us dared to go forward to help the injured as they writhed.
  • But with about a minute left, he injured a knee, writhed on the court in pain and slowly got to his feet.
  • For several days, his family grieved at his side as he writhed and choked at the mere sight of water.
  • It was a limbless thing, with a horrible face, that writhed along the ground in a serpentine fashion.
  • As she drew back from that long kiss, her features writhed, as if a proud heart were fighting with its anguish.
  • For the first time in his life the giant writhed in mental agony.
British Dictionary definitions for writhed


to twist or squirm in or as if in pain
(intransitive) to move with such motions
(intransitive) to suffer acutely from embarrassment, revulsion, etc
the act or an instance of writhing
Derived Forms
writher, noun
Word Origin
Old English wrīthan; related to Old High German rīdan, Old Norse rītha. See wrath, wreath, wrist, wroth
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 writhed



Old English wriðan "to twist or bend," earlier "to bind or fetter," from Proto-Germanic *writhanan (cf. North Frisian wrial, Old High German ridan, Old Norse riða, Middle Swedish vriþa, Middle Danish vride), from PIE *wreit- "to turn, bend" (see wreath). Related: Writhed; writhing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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