A Dictionary of the English Language
                        A Digital Edition of the 1755 Classic by Samuel Johnson
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Writhe (verb active)

View Scan · View Transcription · from page 2307

View Scan · View Transcription · from page 2307

To Writhe. v.a. [ƿꞃıðan, Saxon.]

  1. To distort; to deform with distortion.

    It cannot be this weak and writhed shrimp
    Should strike such terror in his enemies.
    Shakes. Henry VI.

    Hatefulest disrelish writh'd their jaws
    With soot and cinders.

    Her mouth she writh'd, her forehead taught to frown,
    Her eyes to sparkle fires to love unknown:
    Her fallow cheeks her envious mind did shew,
    And ev'ry feature spoke aloud the curstness of a shrew.

  2. To twist with violence.

          Then Satan first knew pain,
    And writh'd him to and fro convolv'd.
    Milton's Parad. Lost.

    Amid' the plaited scales it took its course,
    And in the spinal marrow spent its force;
    The monster hiss'd aloud, and rag'd in vain,
    And writh'd his body to and fro with pain;
    He bit the dart.

  3. To wrest; to force by violence.

    The reason which he yieldeth, sheweth the least part of his meaning to be that whereunto his words are writhed. Hook.

  4. To twist.

                The king of heav'n
    Bar'd his red arm, and launching from the sky
    His writhen bolt, not shaking empty smoke,
    Down to the deep abyss the flaming felon strook.

Sources: Addison, Joseph (408) · Dryden, John (788) · Shakespeare's Henry VI, Part 1 (48) · Hooker, Richard (175) · Milton, John (449)

Attributes: Saxon (215) · Verb Active (289)

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Cite this page: Johnson, Samuel. "Writhe (verb active)." A Dictionary of the English Language: A Digital Edition of the 1755 Classic by Samuel Johnson. Edited by Brandi Besalke. Last modified: January 29, 2014. https://johnsonsdictionaryonline.com/writhe-verb-active/.

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