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verb (used with object), wreathed; wreathed or (Archaic) wreath·en; wreath·ing.
  1. to encircle or adorn with or as with a wreath.
  2. to form as a wreath by twisting or twining.
  3. to surround in curving or curling masses or form.
  4. to envelop: a face wreathed in smiles.
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verb (used without object), wreathed; wreathed or (Archaic) wreath·en; wreath·ing.
  1. to take the form of a wreath or wreaths.
  2. to move in curving or curling masses, as smoke.
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Origin of wreathe

1520–30; earlier wrethe, partly v. use of wreath, partly back formation from wrethen, obsolete past participle of writhe
Related formswreath·er, nounin·ter·wreathe, verb, in·ter·wreathed, in·ter·wreath·ing.
Can be confusedwraith wreath wreathe writhe
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for wreathe

dishevel, derange, screw, swivel, spiral, contort, wriggle, wiggle, wrench, twirl, wrap, coil, sprain, weave, sew, incorporate, entwine, construct, compose, zigzag

Examples from the Web for wreathe

Historical Examples of wreathe

  • A sweet spirit will tune the voice, wreathe the countenance in charms.

    Searchlights on Health: Light on Dark Corners

    B.G. Jefferis

  • It is but making her a flaunting paradox to wreathe her in gems and flowers.

  • Paul would stop from time to time to wreathe flowers in her hair.

    Odette's Marriage

    Albert Delpit

  • How could she go back to town, Poppea thought, and wreathe her hair and sing?

    Poppea of the Post-Office

    Mabel Osgood Wright

  • He thought a moment: he did what he could to wreathe it in smiles.

British Dictionary definitions for wreathe


  1. to form into or take the form of a wreath by intertwining or twisting together
  2. (tr) to decorate, crown, or encircle with wreaths
  3. to move or cause to move in a twisting waysmoke wreathed up to the ceiling
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Word Origin for wreathe

C16: perhaps back formation from wrēthen, from Old English writhen, past participle of wrīthan to writhe; see wreath
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 wreathe


1520s, a back-formation from wrethen, Middle English past participle of writhe. Related: Wreathed; wreathing.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper