Printable Version
Pronunciation: raidh Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: To twist, move with twisting motions, to squirm, wrench or contort.

Notes: Since this word is an authentic English verb (not borrowed), we are left with the present participle, writhing, serving double (triple?) duty of serving as adjective and action noun. Just don't forget it begins with a silent W or to write the final E which turns the [th] into [dh].

In Play: When used in referring to humans, writhing is usually caused by pain (physical or mental): "The more of his faults Senator Bendergraf heard his opponent list, the more he writhed in his seat." The writing itself may be physical or mental: "The debate made all those faults writhe back to Bendergraf from the dark recesses of his mind."

Word History: In Old English today's Good Word was wriðan "to twist, bend", akin to Swedish vrida "to turn" and Norwegian vri "to twist". They all come from PIE wreit- "to twist", a suffixed and metathesized version of wer-/wor- "to turn, bend", source also of Serbian vratiti "return, put back" . Without metathesis, this word also produced Sanskrit vartate "rolls, rounds", Latin vertere "to turn (into), convert", Russian verba "willow" and vernut' "to return", Serbian vrba "willow", German werden "will, become (turn into)", and Lithuanian virvė "rope". With other PIE suffixes we find Welsh gwrym "hem, seam", Dutch rimpelen "wrinkle", English wring and, perhaps, German werfen "to throw". (Now let's recognize Anna Jung's continuing contribution to our efforts by submitting excellent Good Words like today's.)

Dr. Goodword,

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