• wrench •
rench • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Verb, Noun
Meaning: 1. (Verb) To suddenly twist vigorously. 2. (Verb) To injure a part of your body by a sudden twist. 3. (Noun) A tool for twisting bolts or nuts, a spanner (UK).
Notes: Wrench is a purely English word, that is, of Germanic origin. As such its derivational forms are limited to -ed and -ing. the past participle wrenched may be used as an adjective with the same meaning as the participle. Wrenching, however, may be used as an adjective in phrases like 'a wrenching experience'. Don't forget the W that begins this word.
In Play: Here is a sentence containing the verbal and nominal senses of today's word: "Miss Anna Liza Carr wrenched her wrist when her wrench broke as she tugged on a tight bolt." Today's Good Word has many, many metaphorical uses like this one, meaning something like "painful": "Seeing his ice sculpture slowly disappear in the overheated room was a wrenching experience for the chef."
Word History: Today's Good Word started out as Proto-Indo-European wert- "to turn, bend". It picked up a couple of suffixes along its way to English. In Latin it emerges as vertere "to turn" with its frequentative form (referring to repeated action) of versari "to turn several times". In Russian it turned up as vertet' "to turn" and in German, as werden "to become", as in "to turn into". We see the root of the former verb in the borrowed words invert, convert, and subvert. The root of versari we see in the borrowed words inverse, converse, and transverse. English also contains traces of the PIE root obtained legitimately through its Germanic ancestors in wreath, writhe, wrist, wrestle and, of course, today's word—all of which are connected to some form of turning, twisting or bending. (Lest we leave a wrenching pain in Gianni Tamburini, let's thank him now for his recommendation of today's Good Word.)
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