Definition of writhe in English:



  • 1 Make twisting, squirming movements or contortions of the body.

    ‘he writhed in agony on the ground’
    ‘a writhing heap of maggots’
    [with object] ‘a snake writhing its body’
    • ‘‘Things never change here on Walton Mountain,’ I narrated brightly, stepping over Joe's body, as he writhed comically on the floor.’
    • ‘The dancers writhed, wrapped in yards of cloth on top of rostra that made them look like some kind of pole dancer.’
    • ‘They are born artists: dancers who writhe rhythmically; musicians - singing intervals long before they speak language.’
    • ‘Miles writhed and twisted as pain wracked his body.’
    • ‘Evelyn's body writhed, trying to escape her sister's insane tickling motions.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Many people were packed into the crowded living room, their scantily clad bodies writhing to the beat.’
    • ‘I twisted and twitched and writhed, but they wouldn't let me go.’
    • ‘Bikini-clad dancers writhe onstage at a swinger's club in their best '80s music-video impersonation.’
    • ‘We throw the line out and almost immediately pull six gleaming mackerel out of the sea - silver and cobalt, jerking and frantically writhing.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘There are players writhing around in agony yet television replays showed there was absolutely no contact.’
    • ‘The demons were brilliant - creeping and crawling, twisting and writhing as one would expect them to.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘She sobbed uncontrollably and Andriel could feel her body contort and writhe.’
    • ‘She squirmed, writhed, and wriggled, trying to evade the grip of those carrying her.’
    • ‘The man, however, is like a fish out of water, squirming and writhing.’
    • ‘Derek squirmed and writhed, trying to breathe.’
    squirm, wriggle, thrash, flounder, flail, toss, toss and turn, twitch, twist, twist and turn, roll, jiggle, wiggle, jerk, jolt
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1Respond with great emotional or physical discomfort to (an intense or unpleasant feeling or thought)
      ‘she bit her lip, writhing in suppressed fury’
      • ‘She found great satisfaction in seeing him writhe in discomfort.’
      • ‘They almost oscillate between the witty and tragic, and I found myself laughing and then writhing with discomfort.’
      • ‘In early 1932 we encounter Johnson being driven to hospital, writhing in the back of the car with stomach pains.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The ensuing horn blast was loud enough to stun even the Elves, who immediately clapped their hands over their ears and writhed in discomfort.’
      • ‘Mr Buckley said he went to comfort Mr Cox, who was writhing in pain.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘When the noise didn't stop he went outside to see what was happening and found Mr Bland writhing in agony.’
      • ‘When a day shift nurse discovered the man in bed the next morning writhing in agony, she called an ambulance.’
      • ‘Some of the injured were writhing in pain on the floor.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Witnesses said he was writhing in pain on the road with elbow and hip injuries.’
      • ‘When he opened the door he found Sophie on the floor writhing in agony.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Recently, a pony owned by a school management, was operated upon after the animal started writhing in pain.’
      • ‘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.’


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