Definition of wrench in English:



  • 1A sudden violent twist or pull.

    ‘with a wrench Tony wriggled free’
    • ‘It is a bit plasticky inside, not helped by the rather dull colours used for the interior trim, but none of the seemingly ill-designed fittings actually came apart of their own accord, only after being given a hard wrench.’
    • ‘I may venture to say, loosely, that in Judo there is a sort of counter for every twist, wrench, pull, push or bend.’
    • ‘Most sprains happen from a sudden wrench or twist.’
    • ‘Jo steeled herself, and with an almighty wrench pulled her legs free of Morgan's vice-like grip.’
    • ‘A sharp wrench to my shoulder and Jonathan forcibly pulling me to my feet shocked me.’
    • ‘He ordered a loaf, watched as she slipped it into a bag, twisting the top with a wrench of her wrist.’
    tug, pull, jerk, jolt, wrest, heave, twist
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  • 2A feeling of sadness or distress caused by one's own or another's departure.

    ‘it will be a real wrench to leave after eight years’
    • ‘It's going to be a huge wrench for me and everyone who has been at the offices for years.’
    • ‘This is going to be a huge wrench for me, but it is a huge challenge that I'm looking forward to.’
    • ‘It will be a bit of a wrench to leave the house the family has had for so long.’
    • ‘He describes a lonely pitcher: ‘Life outside the diamond is a wrench.’’
    • ‘Although Jay admits it was a wrench leaving her family she is hoping to be joined by husband Sino, 34, who works for an Indian shipping company and their five-year-old daughter Neha in the spring.’
    • ‘It will be a major wrench for the youngster, who has considered the Heslington-based club as his ‘home’ course since arriving at York University three years ago.’
    • ‘‘It is a wrench but I would probably not be able to represent my constituents with the energy I had before, so it is time someone a bit younger took it on,’ she said.’
    • ‘But he and his wife Hillary also face the wrench of leaving behind their three sons, Owen and Daniel, who are in university, and Benjamin, who is still in school.’
    • ‘Fernandez, who lives in Edinburgh with his wife, Ximena, and one-year-old daughter, Judith, is not being diplomatic when he says that it will be a wrench to leave Livingston.’
    • ‘And with a sudden wrench inside of his heart, Ark realised that his friend was gone.’
    • ‘The move was a real wrench, and he feels guilty about it even though everyone has told him he has done the right thing.’
    • ‘Practice manager Sandra Jackson said: ‘We've got a lot of history here and it's really going to be a bit of a wrench, but the new facilities are fantastic.’’
    • ‘It must be a big wrench for him and the supporters to have a home-bred player leave the club.’
    • ‘So, as you can imagine, it's a great wrench to be pulling out: I'm emotionally involved now, it's part of me.’
    • ‘The area, on the edge of the Dales, has much to commend it to Dr Hope, and the move from York should not prove too much of a wrench.’
    • ‘There was more gut wrench when he left Liverpool for Real Sociedad in 1989, only to return to Merseyside with Tranmere as a player two years later.’
    • ‘You know, many people were so loyal to Dan, Peter and Tom, after having been on for over 20 years, that this throws a wrench in everybody's viewing habits.’
    • ‘Mr and Mrs Hoban said: ‘This is a big wrench but we cannot support a party that flouts the UN.’’
    • ‘One of the biggest wrenches was having to give up my job.’
    • ‘The project is for young people aged 13 to 19 but it is such a wrench for older members to leave that they are trained to become volunteer youth workers and so continue their connection with the project.’
    painful parting, distressing separation, traumatic event
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  • 3A tool used for gripping and turning nuts, bolts, pipes, etc.

    • ‘Use a spoke wrench to tighten spokes that feel loose relative to the others - just so they're about as snug as the two spokes closest to them; don't crank down.’
    • ‘Put the nuts on the bolts and tighten them a bit with your fingers, then use a wrench and a screwdriver or Allen key to tighten them completely.’
    • ‘An adjustable wrench works well to tighten up the hardware that holds the faucet in place.’
    • ‘Use the adjustable wrench and tighten all the nuts.’
    • ‘He pulled the tire wrench from behind the seat, and walked to the back of the truck.’
    • ‘Cray took the wrench and disappeared back under the front end.’
    • ‘This is a very handy pair of pliers because it can be also used as a pipe wrench, adjustable wrench, wire cutter, ratchet, or a clamp.’
    • ‘With a pedal wrench turn the shaft while holding the bike, pedal, and crank steady.’
    • ‘A few quick turns of a wrench and the joints were together.’
    • ‘Feeling the cold steel in his hand, Mario used the wrench to loosen the bolt underneath the sink in the main bathroom of his parents' apartment.’
    • ‘Use the wrench to tighten the nut, but not too much.’
    • ‘Jason grabbed a wrench and launched it toward the wall.’
    • ‘A set of three good quality adjustable wrenches - small, medium and large - will fit a very wide range of nuts and bolts and should be all you'll ever need.’
    • ‘As she entered the garage she spotted Aouri kneeling beside Brigg's motorcycle, tightening something with a wrench.’
    • ‘When I have to carry a lot of wrenches in an implement toolbox, I can find the one I need quickly by hooking them all on a couple of snap hooks.’
    • ‘Pipe wrenches are necessary to tighten plumbing pipes.’
    • ‘Remove the pivot bolt with a wrench and take out the spring - with a screwdriver, if necessary.’
    • ‘Use either vise grips and a pair of pliers, or a pipe wrench and pliers to remove the old shower head.’
    • ‘Lacking the special wrenches required to remove the bolts that held the wings on, the dockworkers had employed cold chisels on the bolt heads.’
    • ‘Either faucet can be installed with standard tools, although you may need a basin wrench to reach up to the nuts that hold the faucet to the underside of the sink.’
    spanner, adjustable spanner
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  • 4Mechanics
    A combination of a couple with a force along its axis.


  • 1Pull or twist (someone or something) suddenly and violently.

    ‘Casey grabbed the gun and wrenched it upward from my hand’
    with object and complement ‘she wrenched herself free of his grip’
    no object figurative ‘the betrayal wrenched at her heart’
    • ‘The owner of the shovel grunted and wrenched another mound of dirt out of the ground.’
    • ‘Jason came in and Jess's heart wrenched at his appearance but she refused to be softened towards him.’
    • ‘Suddenly another pain wrenched her heart and she clutched her chest, gasping for air.’
    • ‘He grabbed the doorknob and wrenched the door open.’
    • ‘My idle hands proceeded to pound, wrench, twist, pry, and yank at anything I could get a hold on.’
    • ‘A sudden cold wrenched my stomach, and I fought to keep from crying out.’
    • ‘She doesn't just take the stage - she grabs the camera, squeezes its neck like a tube of toothpaste, and wrenches every iota of power and pathos from every cell of her being to captivate the screen.’
    • ‘Releasing the clutch pedal suddenly, I floored the accelerator, and the wheels spun madly as I wrenched the steering wheel with all my might.’
    • ‘Like a flash, Dagnin leaps onto the table and wrenches his sword free.’
    • ‘His heart wrenched at the sound, for he knew whom it was behind the tears.’
    • ‘She wrenched her bedroom door open and walked in, slamming it shut behind her.’
    • ‘With a final tug, Cedric heaved on the crossbow bolt, wrenching it free at last.’
    • ‘Forcing a smile onto her face, Alicia grabbed the door handle and wrenched it open.’
    • ‘She groped through her pile of dirty clothes for her battered gym shoes and wrenched them on forcefully.’
    • ‘I carefully put the slip of paper back into my pocket and wrenched the shovel out of the ground.’
    • ‘He held his breath and wrenched at the door, but it would not open.’
    • ‘She wrenched her wrist away and backed away, trying to gather her wits.’
    • ‘A few cars had smashed windscreens and the entrails of radios strewn over the seats and onto the pavement where the doors had been wrenched open.’
    • ‘On days like this I dream of wrenching the machine from the sockets and hauling it off my desk, showering useless pieces of paper and coffee cups and disks all over the cheap government carpet.’
    • ‘He jumped, sitting bolt upright, and her heart wrenched at the sight of him.’
    tug, pull, jerk, wrest, heave, twist, tear, rip, pluck, grab, seize, snatch, force, take by force, remove by force, prise, peel
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    1. 1.1 Injure (a part of the body) as a result of a sudden twisting movement.
      ‘she slipped and wrenched her ankle’
      • ‘She wrenched her wrists trying to get them out of Jack's strong grasp.’
      • ‘Naturally, I dashed back to the car, and promptly wrenched my ankle.’
      • ‘She was badly injured and her spine was wrenched out of place.’
      • ‘Upon getting up, he discovered that he'd wrenched his ankle, and couldn't put much weight on it.’
      • ‘So hold up your limp arms and steady your trembling knees and smooth out the path you tread; then the injured limb will not be wrenched, it will grow strong again.’
      • ‘I wrenched my ankle on the way out of the compound.’
      • ‘A racer from Team Whole Foods Market wrenched her ankle immediately and vanished in the cloud of dust raised by the stampede.’
      • ‘In an effort not to crush them and/or avoid severe plastic pokey bit perforation of your foot, you will twist one way or the other and thus wrench your ankle.’
      sprain, twist, turn, strain, rick, crick, pull, dislocate, put out of joint
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    2. 1.2 Turn (something, especially a nut or bolt) with a wrench.
      • ‘Therefore, the bolt or nut can be continuously wrenched at one time without troublesome operation.’
    3. 1.3archaic Distort to fit a particular theory or interpretation.
      ‘to wrench our Bible to make it fit a misconception of facts’
      • ‘Certainly he would have increased the likelihood of gaining insight had he focused on Nietzsche’s books rather than on scribbled notes and sentences wrenched from context.’


  • a wrench in the works


Late Old English wrencan ‘twist’, of unknown origin.