Meaning of wrench in English:



  • 1A sudden violent twist or pull.

    ‘with a wrench Tony wriggled free’
    • ‘Most sprains happen from a sudden wrench or twist.’
    • ‘Jo steeled herself, and with an almighty wrench pulled her legs free of Morgan's vice-like grip.’
    • ‘A sharp wrench to my shoulder and Jonathan forcibly pulling me to my feet shocked me.’
    • ‘He ordered a loaf, watched as she slipped it into a bag, twisting the top with a wrench of her wrist.’
    • ‘It is a bit plasticky inside, not helped by the rather dull colours used for the interior trim, but none of the seemingly ill-designed fittings actually came apart of their own accord, only after being given a hard wrench.’
    • ‘I may venture to say, loosely, that in Judo there is a sort of counter for every twist, wrench, pull, push or bend.’
    tug, pull, jerk, jolt, wrest, heave, twist
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  • 2A feeling of sadness or distress caused by one's own or another's departure.

    ‘it will be a real wrench to leave after eight years’
    • ‘The move was a real wrench, and he feels guilty about it even though everyone has told him he has done the right thing.’
    • ‘There was more gut wrench when he left Liverpool for Real Sociedad in 1989, only to return to Merseyside with Tranmere as a player two years later.’
    • ‘So, as you can imagine, it's a great wrench to be pulling out: I'm emotionally involved now, it's part of me.’
    • ‘And with a sudden wrench inside of his heart, Ark realised that his friend was gone.’
    • ‘It's going to be a huge wrench for me and everyone who has been at the offices for years.’
    • ‘But he and his wife Hillary also face the wrench of leaving behind their three sons, Owen and Daniel, who are in university, and Benjamin, who is still in school.’
    • ‘Fernandez, who lives in Edinburgh with his wife, Ximena, and one-year-old daughter, Judith, is not being diplomatic when he says that it will be a wrench to leave Livingston.’
    • ‘It will be a major wrench for the youngster, who has considered the Heslington-based club as his ‘home’ course since arriving at York University three years ago.’
    • ‘The project is for young people aged 13 to 19 but it is such a wrench for older members to leave that they are trained to become volunteer youth workers and so continue their connection with the project.’
    • ‘It will be a bit of a wrench to leave the house the family has had for so long.’
    • ‘It must be a big wrench for him and the supporters to have a home-bred player leave the club.’
    • ‘This is going to be a huge wrench for me, but it is a huge challenge that I'm looking forward to.’
    • ‘Although Jay admits it was a wrench leaving her family she is hoping to be joined by husband Sino, 34, who works for an Indian shipping company and their five-year-old daughter Neha in the spring.’
    • ‘One of the biggest wrenches was having to give up my job.’
    • ‘‘It is a wrench but I would probably not be able to represent my constituents with the energy I had before, so it is time someone a bit younger took it on,’ she said.’
    • ‘Mr and Mrs Hoban said: ‘This is a big wrench but we cannot support a party that flouts the UN.’’
    • ‘You know, many people were so loyal to Dan, Peter and Tom, after having been on for over 20 years, that this throws a wrench in everybody's viewing habits.’
    • ‘He describes a lonely pitcher: ‘Life outside the diamond is a wrench.’’
    • ‘Practice manager Sandra Jackson said: ‘We've got a lot of history here and it's really going to be a bit of a wrench, but the new facilities are fantastic.’’
    • ‘The area, on the edge of the Dales, has much to commend it to Dr Hope, and the move from York should not prove too much of a wrench.’
    painful parting, distressing separation, traumatic event
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  • 3An adjustable tool like a spanner, used for gripping and turning nuts or bolts.

    ‘you will need a wrench to tighten it in position’
    • ‘An adjustable wrench works well to tighten up the hardware that holds the faucet in place.’
    • ‘Use the adjustable wrench and tighten all the nuts.’
    • ‘Remove the pivot bolt with a wrench and take out the spring - with a screwdriver, if necessary.’
    • ‘Feeling the cold steel in his hand, Mario used the wrench to loosen the bolt underneath the sink in the main bathroom of his parents' apartment.’
    • ‘A set of three good quality adjustable wrenches - small, medium and large - will fit a very wide range of nuts and bolts and should be all you'll ever need.’
    • ‘This is a very handy pair of pliers because it can be also used as a pipe wrench, adjustable wrench, wire cutter, ratchet, or a clamp.’
    • ‘Pipe wrenches are necessary to tighten plumbing pipes.’
    • ‘Use a spoke wrench to tighten spokes that feel loose relative to the others - just so they're about as snug as the two spokes closest to them; don't crank down.’
    • ‘As she entered the garage she spotted Aouri kneeling beside Brigg's motorcycle, tightening something with a wrench.’
    • ‘When I have to carry a lot of wrenches in an implement toolbox, I can find the one I need quickly by hooking them all on a couple of snap hooks.’
    • ‘Use the wrench to tighten the nut, but not too much.’
    • ‘Put the nuts on the bolts and tighten them a bit with your fingers, then use a wrench and a screwdriver or Allen key to tighten them completely.’
    • ‘Lacking the special wrenches required to remove the bolts that held the wings on, the dockworkers had employed cold chisels on the bolt heads.’
    • ‘Use either vise grips and a pair of pliers, or a pipe wrench and pliers to remove the old shower head.’
    • ‘Either faucet can be installed with standard tools, although you may need a basin wrench to reach up to the nuts that hold the faucet to the underside of the sink.’
    • ‘A few quick turns of a wrench and the joints were together.’
    • ‘With a pedal wrench turn the shaft while holding the bike, pedal, and crank steady.’
    • ‘Jason grabbed a wrench and launched it toward the wall.’
    • ‘Cray took the wrench and disappeared back under the front end.’
    • ‘He pulled the tire wrench from behind the seat, and walked to the back of the truck.’
    spanner, adjustable spanner
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  • 4Mechanics
    A combination of a couple with a force along its axis.


[with object]
  • 1Pull or twist suddenly and violently.

    ‘Casey grabbed the gun and wrenched it from my hand’
    with object and complement ‘she wrenched herself free of his grip’
    • ‘Like a flash, Dagnin leaps onto the table and wrenches his sword free.’
    • ‘Releasing the clutch pedal suddenly, I floored the accelerator, and the wheels spun madly as I wrenched the steering wheel with all my might.’
    • ‘On days like this I dream of wrenching the machine from the sockets and hauling it off my desk, showering useless pieces of paper and coffee cups and disks all over the cheap government carpet.’
    • ‘She doesn't just take the stage - she grabs the camera, squeezes its neck like a tube of toothpaste, and wrenches every iota of power and pathos from every cell of her being to captivate the screen.’
    • ‘His heart wrenched at the sound, for he knew whom it was behind the tears.’
    • ‘She wrenched her wrist away and backed away, trying to gather her wits.’
    • ‘The owner of the shovel grunted and wrenched another mound of dirt out of the ground.’
    • ‘Suddenly another pain wrenched her heart and she clutched her chest, gasping for air.’
    • ‘She groped through her pile of dirty clothes for her battered gym shoes and wrenched them on forcefully.’
    • ‘He grabbed the doorknob and wrenched the door open.’
    • ‘With a final tug, Cedric heaved on the crossbow bolt, wrenching it free at last.’
    • ‘My idle hands proceeded to pound, wrench, twist, pry, and yank at anything I could get a hold on.’
    • ‘A few cars had smashed windscreens and the entrails of radios strewn over the seats and onto the pavement where the doors had been wrenched open.’
    • ‘I carefully put the slip of paper back into my pocket and wrenched the shovel out of the ground.’
    • ‘He held his breath and wrenched at the door, but it would not open.’
    • ‘She wrenched her bedroom door open and walked in, slamming it shut behind her.’
    • ‘Forcing a smile onto her face, Alicia grabbed the door handle and wrenched it open.’
    • ‘Jason came in and Jess's heart wrenched at his appearance but she refused to be softened towards him.’
    • ‘He jumped, sitting bolt upright, and her heart wrenched at the sight of him.’
    • ‘A sudden cold wrenched my stomach, and I fought to keep from crying out.’
    tug, pull, jerk, wrest, heave, twist, tear, rip, pluck, grab, seize, snatch, force, take by force, remove by force, prise, peel
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    1. 1.1Injure (a part of the body) as a result of a sudden twisting movement.
      ‘she slipped and wrenched her ankle’
      • ‘In an effort not to crush them and/or avoid severe plastic pokey bit perforation of your foot, you will twist one way or the other and thus wrench your ankle.’
      • ‘A racer from Team Whole Foods Market wrenched her ankle immediately and vanished in the cloud of dust raised by the stampede.’
      • ‘Upon getting up, he discovered that he'd wrenched his ankle, and couldn't put much weight on it.’
      • ‘I wrenched my ankle on the way out of the compound.’
      • ‘Naturally, I dashed back to the car, and promptly wrenched my ankle.’
      • ‘She was badly injured and her spine was wrenched out of place.’
      • ‘So hold up your limp arms and steady your trembling knees and smooth out the path you tread; then the injured limb will not be wrenched, it will grow strong again.’
      • ‘She wrenched her wrists trying to get them out of Jack's strong grasp.’
      sprain, twist, turn, strain, rick, crick, pull, dislocate, put out of joint
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    2. 1.2archaic Distort to fit a particular theory or interpretation.
      ‘to wrench our Bible to make it fit a misconception of facts’
      • ‘Certainly he would have increased the likelihood of gaining insight had he focused on Nietzsche’s books rather than on scribbled notes and sentences wrenched from context.’
  • 2Turn (something, especially a nut or bolt) with a wrench.

    ‘Therefore, the bolt or nut can be continuously wrenched at one time without troublesome operation.’


Late Old English wrencan ‘twist’, of unknown origin.