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verb (used with object)
  1. to twist suddenly and forcibly; pull, jerk, or force by a violent twist: He wrenched the prisoner's wrist.
  2. to overstrain or injure (the ankle, knee, etc.) by a sudden, violent twist: When she fell, she wrenched her ankle.
  3. to affect distressingly as if by a wrench.
  4. to wrest, as from the right use or meaning: to wrench the facts out of context.
verb (used without object)
  1. to twist, turn, or move suddenly aside: He wrenched away.
  2. to give a wrench or twist at something.
  1. a wrenching movement; a sudden, violent twist: With a quick wrench, she freed herself.
  2. a painful, straining twist, as of the ankle or wrist.
  3. a sharp, distressing strain, as to the feelings.
  4. a twisting or distortion, as of meaning.
  5. a tool for gripping and turning or twisting the head of a bolt, a nut, a pipe, or the like, commonly consisting of a bar of metal with fixed or adjustable jaws.

Origin of wrench

before 1050; Middle English wrenchen (v.), Old English wrencan to twist, turn; cognate with German renken
Related formswrench·er, nounwrench·ing·ly, adverbout·wrench, verb (used with object)un·wrenched, adjective
Can be confusedranch wrench

Synonyms for wrench

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Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

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British Dictionary definitions for wrench


  1. to give (something) a sudden or violent twist or pull esp so as to remove (something) from that to which it is attachedto wrench a door off its hinges
  2. (tr) to twist suddenly so as to sprain (a limb)to wrench one's ankle
  3. (tr) to give pain to
  4. (tr) to twist from the original meaning or purpose
  5. (intr) to make a sudden twisting motion
  1. a forceful twist or pull
  2. an injury to a limb, caused by twisting
  3. sudden pain caused esp by parting
  4. a parting that is difficult or painful to make
  5. a distorting of the original meaning or purpose
  6. a spanner, esp one with adjustable jawsSee also torque wrench

Word Origin for wrench

Old English wrencan; related to Old High German renken, Lithuanian rangyti to twist. See wrinkle 1
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 wrench

Old English wrencan "to twist," from Proto-Germanic *wrankijanan (cf. Old High German renken, German renken "to twist, wrench," Old English wringan "to wring"), from PIE *wreng- "to turn" (cf. Sanskrit vrnakti "turns, twists," Lithuanian rengtis "to grow crooked, to writhe"), nasalized variant of *werg- "to turn" (cf. Latin vergere "to turn, tend toward"), from root *wer- (3) "to turn, bend" (see versus). Related: Wrenched, wrenching.


Old English wrenc "a twisting, artifice, trick;" see wrench (v.). The meaning "tool with jaws for turning" is first recorded 1794.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with wrench


see throw a monkey wrench.

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.