noun, plural wreaths [reeth z, reeths] /riðz, riθs/.

a circular band of flowers, foliage, or any ornamental work, for adorning the head or for any decorative purpose; a garland or chaplet.
any ringlike, curving, or curling mass or formation: a wreath of clouds.
(in stair building)
  1. a curved section of a handrail.
  2. Also called wreath·piece.a curved section of a string.

verb (used with or without object)

Origin of wreath

before 1000; Middle English wrethe, Old English writha something wound or coiled; akin to writhe
Related formswreath·like, adjective
Can be confusedwraith wreath wreathe writhe



verb (used with object), wreathed; wreathed or (Archaic) wreath·en; wreath·ing.

to encircle or adorn with or as with a wreath.
to form as a wreath by twisting or twining.
to surround in curving or curling masses or form.
to envelop: a face wreathed in smiles.

verb (used without object), wreathed; wreathed or (Archaic) wreath·en; wreath·ing.

to take the form of a wreath or wreaths.
to move in curving or curling masses, as smoke.

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. 2019

Examples from the Web for wreathed

Historical Examples of wreathed

  • The timid smile that wreathed the tiny mouth was marvelously winning.

    Within the Law

    Marvin Dana

  • With “nods and becks and wreathed smiles” Miss Euphemia seated herself.

    The Nebuly Coat

    John Meade Falkner

  • Wreathed in the tobacco smoke, his countenance was full of sympathy.

  • The threshold of her door was wreathed with flowers, and sprinkled with blood.


    Anatole France

  • Then they wreathed Lalemant in oiled bark and set fire to it.

British Dictionary definitions for wreathed


noun plural wreaths (riːðz, riːθs)

a band of flowers or foliage intertwined into a ring, usually placed on a grave as a memorial or worn on the head as a garland or a mark of honour
any circular or spiral band or formation
a spiral or circular defect appearing in porcelain and glassware
Derived Formswreathless, adjectivewreathlike, adjective

Word Origin for wreath

Old English wrǣth, wrǣd; related to Middle Low German wrēden to twist. See writhe



to form into or take the form of a wreath by intertwining or twisting together
(tr) to decorate, crown, or encircle with wreaths
to move or cause to move in a twisting waysmoke wreathed up to the ceiling

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 wreathed



Old English wriða "fillet, bandage, band" (literally "that which is wound around"), from Proto-Germanic *writhon (cf. Old Norse riða, Danish vride, Old High German ridan "to turn, twist," Old Saxon, Old Frisian wreth "angry," Dutch wreed "rough, harsh, cruel," Old High German reid "twisted," Old Norse reiða "angry"), from PIE *wreit- "to turn, bend" (cf. Old English wriða "band," wriðan "to twist, torture," wraþ "angry"), from root *wer- (3) "to turn, bend" (see versus). Meaning "ring or garland of flowers" is first recorded 1560s.



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

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper