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’
    • ‘We both started laughing and getting into this huge pillow fight when all of a sudden we started wrestling on the ground!’
    • ‘Opponents wrestle until one is thrown to the ground.’
    • ‘They fell forward onto the ground, locked together as they wrestled with one another in order to separate themselves into two people.’
    • ‘The two of them were wrestling on the ground now, and Mega Man managed to pin his brother's wrists to the ground.’
    • ‘All night the two wrestle, but neither can defeat the other.’
    • ‘When I caught up, the pair of them were wrestling on the ground for what looked like, believe it or not, a cookie.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Jumping, running, swimming, wrestling, and other sports activities are recreation for boys and young adults.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘However, John Thornton suddenly rushes in to save the day, throwing Hal down to the ground, wrestling with him.’
    • ‘For some sports such as wrestling, no eye protection is available.’
    • ‘Their children were the kids I wrestled with and fought with and played Star Wars with.’
    • ‘They fall to the ground and begin to wrestle around.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Children with enlarged spleens should avoid contact sports (even wrestling with friends or siblings at home).’
    • ‘Neither Kyal nor Cade took any notice as they rolled on the ground, wrestling for control.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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’
      • ‘Mr Foster, a former police constable, then struggled with several of the security team, who wrestled him to the floor.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Literally ripping through a scrim upstage, she attacks Lisa, wrestling her to the floor.’
      • ‘Suddenly a guy pushed Ron to the floor and wrestled him.’
      • ‘She approached her and before anyone could stop her, she had pushed the Principal's daughter into the snow and started wrestling her.’
      • ‘Then in a flurry of movement from behind he was wrestled to the floor.’
      • ‘Deciding on the best course, he lunged at his brother wrestling him off the couch.’
      • ‘One of the men hit him in the face and wrestled him to the floor.’
      • ‘The four cops busy with Caine wrestled him and slapped handcuffs on him.’
      • ‘I twisted around and got to my knees before he was upon me again, wrestling me down.’
      • ‘William rushed over as fast as he could, broke down the door, and wrestled Anthony off of me.’
      • ‘As the attacker attempted to flee, customers grabbed him and wrestled him to the floor, where he was held until police arrived.’
      • ‘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 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.’
      • ‘As they wrestled me into the car, one of them said ‘Come on, it can't be that bad.’’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Ryan growled out a curse of pain and tried to wrestle away from the man.’
      • ‘His much more youthful servants had to wrestle him to the ground to restrain him.’
      • ‘In this case, had I been civic-spirited, I suppose I could have wrestled him down and yelled for the police.’
      • ‘I would've rolled on top of him and wrestled him until he admitted I was right.’
    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’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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 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.’
      • ‘I wrestled the steering wheel out of his hands and tried to steer the bus.’
      • ‘A fat lad in a yellow jacket wrestled a huge crocodile of trolleys across the car park.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Emily moved and he grabbed her trying to wrestle the chips from her.’
      • ‘Still, I got weirder looks wrestling my luggage down Viat Ottavio, past Saint Paul's Basillica, to my hotel.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The headmaster concentrated on the track, wrestling the wheel of the big car.’
      • ‘I tucked the key in my pocket and finally set about wrestling my hand properly through my sleeve again.’
      • ‘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’
    • ‘I spent much extra time with my children talking, praying, reading, and wrestling with the difficult times which we faced.’
    • ‘That meant wrestling with a difficult marketing question: How do you update and redefine a brand without losing its essence?’
    • ‘Also we should note that some English translations wrestle with the difficulty of this verse by adding a footnote.’
    • ‘This was, however, a work produced from inside the community, wrestling with difficult issues that trouble that community, and all communities.’
    • ‘I may have been mulling over a difficult decision, or wrestling with the structure of a forthcoming speech.’
    • ‘Ratmini, like other professional women has often wrestled with this hot gender issue, the difficult choice between career and home.’
    • ‘Moreover, while many adolescents wrestle with these feelings, the auxiliary parents' struggles would invariably involve their charge.’
    • ‘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 author wrestles with three self-imposed difficulties.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Kenneth respected the Word, but he wrestled with archaisms in the King James Bible - a certain portent of future editorial tasks.’
    • ‘In the days before the conference, attendees and faculty wrestled with the difficult decision of whether to follow us to Florida.’
    • ‘While the crew wrestles with the logistics of survival, emotional relationships between them begin to manifest.’
    • ‘The first type centres around ‘can't-make-a-living-from-it’ ventures as struggling novelists wrestle with metaphors in the small hours.’
    • ‘The task force wrestled with the winter break issue, Hallam said.’
    • ‘Garner has wrestled with dozens of difficult decisions during this improbable 42-14 run.’
    • ‘Family physicians should feel free to provide specific advice to patients and families wrestling with these difficult decisions.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    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.’
    • ‘A 20-minute wrestle ensued and Tut emerged victorious, bringing the crocodile up from the depth of the water.’
    • ‘Then the Bedford crowd came in and I think there were a few words exchanged and a bit of a 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.’
    • ‘She clasped the revolver tightly and looked in the direction where the wrestle for the sniper's gun continued between Alex and the captain.’
    • ‘One particularly drunken night they even had a wrestle.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘She came at him again, but he grabbed her arms and they fell to the hilly terrain in what looked like a death wrestle.’
    • ‘A quick and wordless wrestle ensued, both men exerting themselves physically to pry away the files.’
  • 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.’
    • ‘It was a wrestle just to get the car out of the junctions on the main road.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘But after a whiskey-fuelled wrestle with his demons lasting into the wee small hours he lost his bottle and decided against the procedure.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Poultry shears cut through the bones of chicken, duck, and other birds without the carving wrestle.’
    • ‘If that is the piece's only real flaw, however, encourage the writer to resubmit it after a good wrestle with indecision.’


Old English, frequentative of wrǣstan ‘wrest’.