Definition of writhe in English:



[no object]
  • 1Make twisting, squirming movements or contortions of the body.

    ‘he writhed in agony on the ground’
    with object ‘a snake writhing its body’
    • ‘Derek squirmed and writhed, trying to breathe.’
    • ‘‘Things never change here on Walton Mountain,’ I narrated brightly, stepping over Joe's body, as he writhed comically on the floor.’
    • ‘The man, however, is like a fish out of water, squirming and writhing.’
    • ‘There are players writhing around in agony yet television replays showed there was absolutely no contact.’
    • ‘We throw the line out and almost immediately pull six gleaming mackerel out of the sea - silver and cobalt, jerking and frantically writhing.’
    • ‘The demons were brilliant - creeping and crawling, twisting and writhing as one would expect them to.’
    • ‘They are born artists: dancers who writhe rhythmically; musicians - singing intervals long before they speak language.’
    • ‘She squirmed and writhed and twisted, genuinely this time, but she was small anyway, and Sarah was strong, and so she wasn't going anywhere.’
    • ‘The dancers writhed, wrapped in yards of cloth on top of rostra that made them look like some kind of pole dancer.’
    • ‘Miles writhed and twisted as pain wracked his body.’
    • ‘Bikini-clad dancers writhe onstage at a swinger's club in their best '80s music-video impersonation.’
    • ‘Evelyn's body writhed, trying to escape her sister's insane tickling motions.’
    • ‘She squirmed, writhed, and wriggled, trying to evade the grip of those carrying her.’
    • ‘The bar is a seething mass of bodies writhing to the disorienting beat.’
    • ‘Taibhsear watched in awe as the great body writhed and twisted, and a new egg fell to join the others.’
    • ‘I twisted and twitched and writhed, but they wouldn't let me go.’
    • ‘She sobbed uncontrollably and Andriel could feel her body contort and writhe.’
    • ‘Many people were packed into the crowded living room, their scantily clad bodies writhing to the beat.’
    • ‘Nodding in affirmation, Ex led her away from the pack and into the group of bodies writhing on the dance floor.’
    • ‘In the second act, Colker's sleek, scantily-clad dancers writhe seductively in and out of a clear plastic tank.’
    squirm, wriggle, thrash, flounder, flail, toss, toss and turn, twitch, twist, twist and turn, roll, jiggle, wiggle, jerk, jolt
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1writhe in/with/at Respond with great emotional or physical discomfort to (an intense or unpleasant feeling or thought)
      ‘she bit her lip, writhing in suppressed fury’
      • ‘Recently, a pony owned by a school management, was operated upon after the animal started writhing in pain.’
      • ‘The four actors appear in front of a vast mirror that reflects their every move, while sitting, standing, or laying on the floor writhing in pain.’
      • ‘She found great satisfaction in seeing him writhe in discomfort.’
      • ‘When the noise didn't stop he went outside to see what was happening and found Mr Bland writhing in agony.’
      • ‘The ensuing horn blast was loud enough to stun even the Elves, who immediately clapped their hands over their ears and writhed in discomfort.’
      • ‘When he opened the door he found Sophie on the floor writhing in agony.’
      • ‘Some of the injured were writhing in pain on the floor.’
      • ‘When a day shift nurse discovered the man in bed the next morning writhing in agony, she called an ambulance.’
      • ‘Witnesses said he was writhing in pain on the road with elbow and hip injuries.’
      • ‘It was a disturbing fall, his body writhing in spasms from the moment he hit the turf, his hands gesturing to the bench that he would play no further part.’
      • ‘City's top scorer raced onto Alex Calvo Garcia's misdirected header but as he went to shoot he was tackled simultaneously by Russ Wilcox and was left writhing in agony.’
      • ‘They almost oscillate between the witty and tragic, and I found myself laughing and then writhing with discomfort.’
      • ‘A minute later, Whalen was down on the Value City arena court in Columbus, writhing with two broken bones in her right hand, her collegiate career probably finished.’
      • ‘I found myself writhing in my bed and moaning until my flatmate came to check up on me and brought me a hot lemon and honey drink.’
      • ‘In early 1932 we encounter Johnson being driven to hospital, writhing in the back of the car with stomach pains.’
      • ‘Mr Buckley said he went to comfort Mr Cox, who was writhing in pain.’


Old English wrīthan ‘make into coils, plait, fasten with a cord’, of Germanic origin; related to wreathe.