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[thresh] /θrɛʃ/
verb (used with object)
to separate the grain or seeds from (a cereal plant or the like) by some mechanical means, as by beating with a flail or by the action of a threshing machine.
to beat as if with a flail.
verb (used without object)
to thresh wheat, grain, etc.
to deliver blows as if with a flail.
the act of threshing.
Verb phrases
thresh out/over. thrash (def 12).
Also, thrash.
Origin of thresh
before 900; Middle English threschen, thresshen, Old English threscan; cognate with German dreschen, Gothic thriskan; akin to Dutch dorsen, Old Norse thriskja
Related forms
rethresh, verb (used with object)
unthreshed, adjective
Can be confused
thrash, thresh. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for thresh
Historical Examples
  • But fortunately he came up on the surface to thresh about some more.

    Tales of Fishes Zane Grey
  • The Moujik began to thresh: from every sheaf he got a peck of grain.

    Russian Fairy Tales W. R. S. Ralston
  • All his optimism failed to thresh a grain of hope from the chaff of his postulations.

  • He fell with a great roar, and began to thresh about in the bushes.

  • Be sensible; stack what you can, but don't wait to thresh or grind.

    The Reckoning Robert W. Chambers
  • He has sown, but he has also to reap; and if reaping is done, he has to thresh and to winnow.

    Talks To Farmers Charles Haddon Spurgeon
  • His wheel is not to grind, but to thresh; the horses' feet are not to break, but to separate.

    Talks To Farmers Charles Haddon Spurgeon
  • The two of you will have to thresh it out between yourselves.

  • Overhead could be distinctly heard the thresh of the vessel's propellers.

    A Sub and a Submarine Percy F. Westerman
  • Some of them thresh, clean, and sack the wheat as fast as it is cut and bound.

    The Romance of Modern Mechanism Archibald Williams
British Dictionary definitions for thresh


to beat or rub stalks of ripe corn or a similar crop either with a hand implement or a machine to separate the grain from the husks and straw
(transitive) to beat or strike
(intransitive) often foll by about. to toss and turn; thrash
the act of threshing
Word Origin
Old English threscan; related to Gothic thriskan, Old Norse thriskja; see thrash
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for thresh

Old English þrescan, þerscan "to beat, sift grain by trampling or beating," from Proto-Germanic *threskanan "to thresh," originally "to tread, to stamp noisily" (cf. Middle Dutch derschen, Dutch dorschen, Old High German dreskan, German dreschen, Old Norse þreskja, Gothic þriskan), from PIE root *tere- "to rub, turn" (see throw).

The basic notion is of treading out wheat under foot of men or oxen, later, with the advent of the flail, the word acquired its modern extended sense of "to knock, beat, strike." The original Germanic sense is suggested by the use of the word in Romanic languages that borrowed it, e.g. Italian trescare "to prance," Old French treschier "to dance," Spanish triscar "to stamp the feet."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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