the practice of an insurance agent of tricking the holder of a life insurance policy into letting it lapse so that the insured will replace it with one of a company represented by the agent.

Origin of twisting

First recorded in 1905–10; twist + -ing1



verb (used with object)

to combine, as two or more strands or threads, by winding together; intertwine.
to form by or as if by winding strands together: Several fibers were used to twist the rope.
to entwine (one thing) with another; interlace (something) with something else; interweave; plait.
to wind or coil (something) about something else; encircle; entwine; wreathe.
to alter in shape, as by turning the ends in opposite directions, so that parts previously in the same straight line and plane are located in a spiral curve: The sculptor twisted the form into an arabesque. He twisted his body around to look behind him.
to turn sharply or wrench out of place; sprain: He twisted his ankle.
to pull, tear, or break off by turning forcibly: He twisted the arm off the puppet.
to distort (the features) by tensing or contracting the facial muscles; contort: She twisted her face in a wry smile.
to distort the meaning or form of; pervert: He twisted my comment about to suit his own purpose.
to cause to become mentally or emotionally distorted; warp: The loss of his business twisted his whole outlook on life.
to form into a coil, knot, or the like by winding, rolling, etc.: to twist the hair into a knot.
to bend tortuously.
to cause to move with a rotary motion, as a ball pitched in a curve.
to turn (something) from one direction to another, as by rotating or revolving: I twisted my chair to face the window.
to combine or associate intimately.

verb (used without object)

to be or become intertwined.
to wind or twine about something.
to writhe or squirm.
to take a spiral form or course; wind, curve, or bend.
to turn or rotate, as on an axis; revolve, as about something; spin.
to turn so as to face in another direction.
to turn, coil, or bend into a spiral shape.
to change shape under forcible turning or twisting.
to move with a progressive rotary motion, as a ball pitched in a curve.
to dance the twist.


a deviation in direction; curve; bend; turn.
the action of turning or rotating on an axis; rotary motion; spin.
anything formed by or as if by twisting or twining parts together.
the act or process of twining strands together, as in thread, yarn, or rope.
a twisting awry or askew.
distortion or perversion, as of meaning or form.
a peculiar attitude or bias; eccentric turn or bent of mind; eccentricity.
spiral disposition, arrangement, or form.
spiral movement or course.
an irregular bend; crook; kink.
a sudden, unanticipated change of course, as of events.
a treatment, method, idea, version, etc., especially one differing from that which preceded: The screenwriters gave the old plot a new twist.
the changing of the shape of anything by or as by turning the ends in opposite directions.
the stress causing this alteration; torque.
the resulting state.
a twisting or torsional action, force, or stress; torsion.
a strong, twisted silk thread, heavier than ordinary sewing silk, for working buttonholes and for other purposes.
the direction of twisting in weaving yarn; S twist or Z twist.
a loaf or roll of dough twisted and baked.
a strip of citrus peel that has been twisted and placed in a drink to add flavor.
a kind of tobacco manufactured in the form of a rope or thick cord.
a dance performed by couples and characterized by strongly rhythmic turns and twists of the arms, legs, and torso.
the degree of spiral formed by the grooves in a rifled firearm or cannon.
Gymnastics, Diving. a full rotation of the body about the vertical axis.
a wrench.

Origin of twist

1300–50; Middle English twisten to divide, derivative of twist divided object, rope (compare Old English -twist in candel-twist pair of snuffers); cognate with Dutch twisten to quarrel, German Zwist a quarrel. See twi-
Related formstwist·a·ble, adjectivetwist·a·bil·i·ty, nountwist·ed·ly, adverbtwist·ing·ly, adverbo·ver·twist, verbre·twist, verbun·twist·a·ble, adjective

Synonyms for twist

7. wrench, wrest, yank. 32. See turn. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for twisting

Contemporary Examples of twisting

Historical Examples of twisting

  • She stood looking down, twisting her ring around her finger.


    Mary Roberts Rinehart

  • And so he did, twisting it up and setting it to the flame of the candle.

  • She had one end of the shawl between her fingers and was twisting it aimlessly.

    The Underdog

    F. Hopkinson Smith

  • Especially when he trips you, the minister's son, up, about twisting the Bible.

  • "I—I won't do it again," she faltered, twisting her hands together.

    The Fortune Hunter

    Louis Joseph Vance

British Dictionary definitions for twisting



to cause (one end or part) to turn or (of one end or part) to turn in the opposite direction from another; coil or spin
to distort or be distorted; change in shape
to wind or cause to wind; twine, coil, or intertwineto twist flowers into a wreath
to force or be forced out of the natural form or positionto twist one's ankle
(usually passive) to change or cause to change for the worse in character, meaning, etc; perverthis ideas are twisted; she twisted the statement
to revolve or cause to revolve; rotate
(tr) to wrench with a turning actionto twist something from someone's grasp
(intr) to follow a winding course
(intr) to squirm, as with pain
(intr) to dance the twist
(tr) British informal to cheat; swindle
twist someone's arm to persuade or coerce someone


the act or an instance of twisting
something formed by or as if by twistinga twist of hair
a decisive change of direction, aim, meaning, or character
(in a novel, play, etc) an unexpected event, revelation, or other development
a benda twist in the road
a distortion of the original or natural shape or form
a jerky pull, wrench, or turn
a strange personal characteristic, esp a bad one
a confused mess, tangle, or knot made by twisting
a twisted thread used in sewing where extra strength is needed
(in weaving) a specified direction of twisting the yarn
the twist a modern dance popular in the 1960s, in which couples vigorously twist the hips in time to rhythmic music
a bread loaf or roll made of one or more pieces of twisted dough
a thin sliver of peel from a lemon, lime, etc, twisted and added to a drink
  1. a cigar made by twisting three cigars around one another
  2. chewing tobacco made in the form of a roll by twisting the leaves together
physics torsional deformation or shear stress or strain
sport, mainly US and Canadian spin given to a ball in various games, esp baseball
the extent to which the grooves in the bore of a rifled firearm are spiralled
round the twist British slang mad; eccentric
Derived Formstwistable, adjectivetwistability, nountwisted, adjectivetwisting, adjectivetwisty, adjective

Word Origin for twist

Old English; related to German dialect Zwist a quarrel, Dutch twisten to quarrel
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

Word Origin and History for twisting



mid-14c., "flat part of a hinge," probably from Old English -twist (in mæsttwist "mast rope, stay;" candeltwist "wick"), from Proto-Germanic *twis-, from root of two. Original senses suggest "dividing in two" (cf. cognate Old Norse tvistra "to divide, separate," Gothic twis- "in two, asunder," Dutch twist, German zwist "quarrel, discord," though these senes have no equivalent in English), but later ones are of "combining two into one," hence the original sense of the word may be "rope made of two strands."

Meaning "thread or cord composed of two or more fibers" is recorded from 1550s. Meaning "act or action of turning on an axis" is attested from 1570s. Sense of "beverage consisting of two or more liquors" is first attested c.1700. Meaning "thick cord of tobacco" is from 1791. Meaning "curled piece of lemon, etc., used to flavor a drink" is recorded from 1958. Sense of "unexpected plot development" is from 1941.

The popular rock 'n' roll dance craze is from 1961, but twist was used to describe popular dances in 1894 and again in the 1920s. To get one's knickers in a twist "be unduly agitated" is British slang first attested 1971.



early 14c. (implied in past tense form twaste), "to wring," from the source of twist (n.). Sense of "to spin two or more strands of yarn into thread" is attested from late 15c. Meaning "to move in a winding fashion" is recorded from 1630s. To twist the lion's tail was U.S. slang (1895) for "to provoke British feeling." Related: Twisted; twisting.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper