wreath

[reeth]
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noun, plural wreaths [reeth z, reeths] /riðz, riθs/.
  1. a circular band of flowers, foliage, or any ornamental work, for adorning the head or for any decorative purpose; a garland or chaplet.
  2. any ringlike, curving, or curling mass or formation: a wreath of clouds.
  3. (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)
  1. to wreathe.

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

wreathe

[reeth]
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.
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.

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


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Historical Examples of wreathing


British Dictionary definitions for wreathing

wreath

noun plural wreaths (riːðz, riːθs)
  1. 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
  2. any circular or spiral band or formation
  3. 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

wreathe

verb
  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

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 wreathing

wreath

n.

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.

wreathe

v.

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

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper