Definition of wrestle in US English:



[no object]
  • 1Take part in a fight, either as sport or in earnest, that involves grappling with one's opponent and trying to throw or force them to the ground.

    ‘as the policeman wrestled with the gunman a shot rang out’
    • ‘However, John Thornton suddenly rushes in to save the day, throwing Hal down to the ground, wrestling with him.’
    • ‘The change, in which both hero and beast are prone and wrestling on the ground, gives a strikingly different appearance from the standing or kneeling schemes.’
    • ‘Freya laughed, and shook her head, watching the 3 of them wrestle on the ground.’
    • ‘When I caught up, the pair of them were wrestling on the ground for what looked like, believe it or not, a cookie.’
    • ‘Opponents wrestle until one is thrown to the ground.’
    • ‘All night the two wrestle, but neither can defeat the other.’
    • ‘Then we had a snowball fight, wrestled around on the ground, and carried on with play fights for a short while until we were all quite exhausted.’
    • ‘Neither Kyal nor Cade took any notice as they rolled on the ground, wrestling for control.’
    • ‘Children with enlarged spleens should avoid contact sports (even wrestling with friends or siblings at home).’
    • ‘The two of them were wrestling on the ground now, and Mega Man managed to pin his brother's wrists to the ground.’
    • ‘The pair of boys fell to the ground, wrestling drunkenly, trying to get the better of the other.’
    • ‘Witnesses said that despite his age, Bocus wrestled with the gunman, who forced him to the ground and fired a shot through his mouth.’
    • ‘For some sports such as wrestling, no eye protection is available.’
    • ‘When they play-fought, wrestling on the ground or standing on their hindlegs and pushing against each other, he felt a savage affection for them.’
    • ‘They fall to the ground and begin to wrestle around.’
    • ‘Jumping, running, swimming, wrestling, and other sports activities are recreation for boys and young adults.’
    • ‘We both started laughing and getting into this huge pillow fight when all of a sudden we started wrestling on the ground!’
    • ‘Their children were the kids I wrestled with and fought with and played Star Wars with.’
    • ‘They fell forward onto the ground, locked together as they wrestled with one another in order to separate themselves into two people.’
    • ‘The two battlers rolled about, wrestling on the floor of the hallway.’
    1. 1.1with object and adverbial Force (someone) into a particular position by grappling with them or trying to throw to the ground.
      ‘the security guards wrestled them to the ground’
      • ‘Officers chased him on foot, tried to disable him with a Taser gun (repelled by Johnson's leather jacket), and finally wrestled him from the cart.’
      • ‘In this case, had I been civic-spirited, I suppose I could have wrestled him down and yelled for the police.’
      • ‘I was about 50 feet away from Jaggi when 3 or 4 cops dressed as protesters grabbed him, wrestled him into a van and sped away.’
      • ‘She approached her and before anyone could stop her, she had pushed the Principal's daughter into the snow and started wrestling her.’
      • ‘It is understood four passengers subdued the man and wrestled him to the floor of the aircraft, where they sat on him and held him still for the remainder of the journey.’
      • ‘As the attacker attempted to flee, customers grabbed him and wrestled him to the floor, where he was held until police arrived.’
      • ‘His much more youthful servants had to wrestle him to the ground to restrain him.’
      • ‘Deciding on the best course, he lunged at his brother wrestling him off the couch.’
      • ‘The four cops busy with Caine wrestled him and slapped handcuffs on him.’
      • ‘‘As he got within a few feet, the person he had been speaking to ran over to him and jumped on him from behind and wrestled him to the floor,’ he said.’
      • ‘Suddenly a guy pushed Ron to the floor and wrestled him.’
      • ‘Ryan growled out a curse of pain and tried to wrestle away from the man.’
      • ‘I would've rolled on top of him and wrestled him until he admitted I was right.’
      • ‘Mr Foster, a former police constable, then struggled with several of the security team, who wrestled him to the floor.’
      • ‘William rushed over as fast as he could, broke down the door, and wrestled Anthony off of me.’
      • ‘Literally ripping through a scrim upstage, she attacks Lisa, wrestling her to the floor.’
      • ‘As they wrestled me into the car, one of them said ‘Come on, it can't be that bad.’’
      • ‘Then in a flurry of movement from behind he was wrestled to the floor.’
      • ‘One of the men hit him in the face and wrestled him to the floor.’
      • ‘I twisted around and got to my knees before he was upon me again, wrestling me down.’
    2. 1.2with object and adverbial Move or manipulate (something) in a specified way with difficulty and some physical effort.
      ‘she wrestled the keys out of the ignition’
      • ‘Local Police officer Inspector David Richard Driver has been awarded a commendation for bravery after wrestling a gun from a man in Casino last April.’
      • ‘The headmaster concentrated on the track, wrestling the wheel of the big car.’
      • ‘Out in the street, as I paused to wipe my brow and catch my breath after wrestling the bins over the curb and up onto the grass, I looked up the block toward my neighbors the Trash Pigs.’
      • ‘Terrified Emmerdale star Dee Whitehead told yesterday how she was attacked by car-jackers who wrestled her keys from her before speeding away in her vehicle.’
      • ‘I wrestled the steering wheel out of his hands and tried to steer the bus.’
      • ‘She wrestled a large bundle of keys loose from underneath her petticoats and tried several before finding the one that belonged to this particular room.’
      • ‘Emily moved and he grabbed her trying to wrestle the chips from her.’
      • ‘A fat lad in a yellow jacket wrestled a huge crocodile of trolleys across the car park.’
      • ‘I tucked the key in my pocket and finally set about wrestling my hand properly through my sleeve again.’
      • ‘Still, I got weirder looks wrestling my luggage down Viat Ottavio, past Saint Paul's Basillica, to my hotel.’
      • ‘The Judy C steers very well, with enough torsional stiffness to let you wrestle the front wheel out of ruts and with the tracking precision to keep you out of the ruts in the first place.’
      • ‘Slowly, they wave toward the harbor, a sign that somewhere deep in the scrum the Doonies have wrestled the ball away and are ready to start moving back.’
      • ‘By the time we reach up with her, she's trying to unlock the front door of the car while wrestling the keys from Mikey.’
  • 2Struggle with a difficulty or problem.

    ‘for over a year David wrestled with a guilty conscience’
    • ‘Family physicians should feel free to provide specific advice to patients and families wrestling with these difficult decisions.’
    • ‘That meant wrestling with a difficult marketing question: How do you update and redefine a brand without losing its essence?’
    • ‘Kenneth respected the Word, but he wrestled with archaisms in the King James Bible - a certain portent of future editorial tasks.’
    • ‘Moreover, while many adolescents wrestle with these feelings, the auxiliary parents' struggles would invariably involve their charge.’
    • ‘Unlike the other chapters, in which we watch the class wrestle with the essay assignment, in this chapter we consider one student writer at a time.’
    • ‘While the crew wrestles with the logistics of survival, emotional relationships between them begin to manifest.’
    • ‘Garner has wrestled with dozens of difficult decisions during this improbable 42-14 run.’
    • ‘In the days before the conference, attendees and faculty wrestled with the difficult decision of whether to follow us to Florida.’
    • ‘Ratmini, like other professional women has often wrestled with this hot gender issue, the difficult choice between career and home.’
    • ‘I spent much extra time with my children talking, praying, reading, and wrestling with the difficult times which we faced.’
    • ‘This was, however, a work produced from inside the community, wrestling with difficult issues that trouble that community, and all communities.’
    • ‘Also we should note that some English translations wrestle with the difficulty of this verse by adding a footnote.’
    • ‘Each week, Powers will take the audience into a new case of spooky mystery, as the team wrestle with a range of unexplained happenings from aliens to ghosts and rips in the fabric of time itself.’
    • ‘The task force wrestled with the winter break issue, Hallam said.’
    • ‘The play's more engaging theme is found in the moral struggle the characters encounter as they wrestle with the notion of integrity in the face of their grasping egos.’
    • ‘After finishing 11th overall in the World Cup last year, Baxter had had a difficult season as he wrestled with equipment problems, racing with five different pairs of skis in six races.’
    • ‘High school students will connect with Matt as he grows from a frightened little boy to a young man who wrestles with difficult issues and decisions.’
    • ‘I may have been mulling over a difficult decision, or wrestling with the structure of a forthcoming speech.’
    • ‘The first type centres around ‘can't-make-a-living-from-it’ ventures as struggling novelists wrestle with metaphors in the small hours.’
    • ‘The author wrestles with three self-imposed difficulties.’
    grapple, fight, struggle, wrangle, contend, vie, battle, combat
    View synonyms


  • 1A wrestling bout or contest.

    ‘a wrestle to the death’
    • ‘82 mins: Ricketts hits a shot over after beating Ehiogu comprehensively in a race and a wrestle to make the most of Farrelly's inviting through ball.’
    • ‘She came at him again, but he grabbed her arms and they fell to the hilly terrain in what looked like a death wrestle.’
    • ‘In the second quarter right in front of us Antoni Grover, who plays for our team Fremantle, had a bit of a wrestle with a Carlton player called Brendan Fevola.’
    • ‘A 20-minute wrestle ensued and Tut emerged victorious, bringing the crocodile up from the depth of the water.’
    • ‘A quick and wordless wrestle ensued, both men exerting themselves physically to pry away the files.’
    • ‘Red and Nellie like nothing more than a wrestle in the car park and will spend hours chasing, sniffing and biting each other while their owners stand chatting.’
    • ‘Then the Bedford crowd came in and I think there were a few words exchanged and a bit of a wrestle.’
    • ‘One particularly drunken night they even had a wrestle.’
    • ‘She clasped the revolver tightly and looked in the direction where the wrestle for the sniper's gun continued between Alex and the captain.’
  • 2A hard struggle.

    ‘a lifelong wrestle with depression’
    • ‘A brief wrestle with his conscience told James that he was not the sort of man who could watch another man die, however much he loathed him, and, still bellowing for assistance, he began to swim towards Charles.’
    • ‘Of course, he has given himself some time to have a wrestle with his political conscience before the big day when he joins the party.’
    • ‘Courage, um, I wasn't sure what to do, where to go, how to proceed, what policy to adopt and there's an internal wrestle to confront or not to confront.’
    • ‘If that is the piece's only real flaw, however, encourage the writer to resubmit it after a good wrestle with indecision.’
    • ‘Poultry shears cut through the bones of chicken, duck, and other birds without the carving wrestle.’
    • ‘It was a wrestle just to get the car out of the junctions on the main road.’
    • ‘But after a whiskey-fuelled wrestle with his demons lasting into the wee small hours he lost his bottle and decided against the procedure.’


Old English, frequentative of wrǣstan ‘wrest’.