Pronunciation Verb

wring (wrings, present participle wringing; past wrung, past participle wrung)

  1. To squeeze or twist (something) tightly so that liquid is forced out. See also wring out.
    I didn’t have a towel so I just wrung my hair dry.
    • 1838, Edgar Allan Poe, The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket, London: Wiley and Putnam, Chapter 13, p. 152,
      […] we contrived to satisfy the cravings of thirst by suffering the shirts to become saturated, and then wringing them so as to let the grateful fluid trickle into our mouths.
    • 1933, George Orwell, Down and Out in Paris and London, London: Victor Gollancz, Chapter 21, p. 154,
      […] he had sometimes wrung a dirty dishcloth into a customer’s soup before taking it in, just to be revenged upon a member of the bourgeoisie.
    • 1988, Anne Tyler, Breathing Lessons, New York: Knopf, Part 1, Chapter 1, p. 15,
      “I feel I’ve been wrung through a wringer,” Maggie said.
  2. To extract (a liquid) from something wet, especially cloth, by squeezing and twisting it.
    Put the berries into a cheesecloth and wring the juice into a bowl.
    • 1611, King James Version of the Bible, Book of Judges 6.38,
      He rose up early on the morrow, and thrust the fleece together, and wringed the dew out of the fleece.
    • 1748, Tobias Smollett, The Adventures of Roderick Random, London: J. Osborn, Volume 1, Chapter 14, p. 107,
      [He] wrung the urine out of his perriwig, and lifting up a large stone, flung it with such force against the street-door of that house from whence he had been bedewed, that the lock giving way, it flew wide open,
    • 1952, Zora Neale Hurston, Dust Tracks on a Road, New York: Arno Press and The New York Times, 1969, Chapter 8, p. 128,
      Heinz could have wrung enough vinegar out of Cally’s look to run his pickle works.
    • 1989, John Irving, A Prayer for Owen Meany, New York: William Morrow, Chapter 8, p. 381,
      […] he was thrilled by the spectacle of wringing his own blood from the sodden gauze pad into the sodden towel.
  3. To obtain (something from or out of someone or something) by force.
    The police said they would wring the truth out of that heinous criminal.
    • circa 1590 William Shakespeare, Henry VI, Part 3, Act III, Scene 1,
      No, Harry, Harry, ’tis no land of thine;
      Thy place is fill’d, thy sceptre wrung from thee,
    • 1741, Samuel Richardson, Pamela; or, Virtue Rewarded, London: C. Rivington and J. Osborn, Volume 1, Letter 31, p. 268,
      Torture should not wring it from me, I assure you.
    • 1910, Emma Goldman, “Prisons: A Social Crime and Failure” in Anarchism and Other Essays, New York: Mother Earth Publishing Association, pp. 129-130,
      […] the enormous profits thus wrung from convict labor are a constant incentive to the contractors to exact from their unhappy victims tasks altogether beyond their strength […]
    • 1931, Pearl S. Buck, The Good Earth, New York: John Day, Chapter 3, p. 35,
      He took his life from this earth; drop by drop by his sweat he wrung food from it and from the food, silver.
    • 1970, Robertson Davies, Fifth Business, Toronto: Macmillan, Part 6, Chapter 2, p. 278,
      […] his confidences were not wrung from him against his will but gushed like oil from a well
  4. To draw (something from or out of someone); to generate (something) as a response.
    Synonyms: elicit, provoke
    • circa 1598 William Shakespeare, Much Ado about Nothing, Act V, Scene 1,
      Your over-kindness doth wring tears from me!
    • 1846, Charlotte Brontë, “Evening Solace” in Poems by Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell, London: Smith, Elder, p. 122,
      And thoughts that once wrung groans of anguish,
      Now cause but some mild tears to flow.
    • 1855, Frederick Douglass, My Bondage and My Freedom, New York: Miller, Orton & Mulligan, Chapter 11, p. 156,
      Words like these, I observed, always troubled them; and I had no small satisfaction in wringing from the boys, occasionally, that fresh and bitter condemnation of slavery, that springs from nature, unseared and unperverted.
  5. To hold (something) tightly and press or twist.
    to wring one's hands (with worry, etc.)
    to wring someone's hand (i.e. shake hands with them)
    to wring someone's / an animal's neck (Synonyms: strangle, throttle)
    • 1611, King James Version of the Bible, Book of Leviticus 1.15,
      The priest shall bring it [a dove] unto the altar, and wring off his head,
    • 1855, Elizabeth Gaskell, North and South (Gaskell novel), London: Chapman & Hall, Volume 1, Chapter 16, p. 195,
      Margaret could not speak for crying; but she wrung his hand at parting.
    • 1915, Lucy Maud Montgomery, Anne of the Island, Boston: Page, Chapter 40, p. 316,
      The Haunted Wood was full of the groans of mighty trees wrung in the tempest,
    • 1929, William Faulkner, The Sound and the Fury, New York: Vintage, 1956, “April Eighth, 1928,” p. 379,
      Jason stood, slowly wringing the brim of his hat in his hands.
    • 2008, Aravind Adiga, The White Tiger, London: Atlantic Books, p. 202,
      […] I had to wring your ears to make you do any work.
  6. To cause pain or distress to (someone / one's heart, soul, etc.).
    Synonyms: torment, torture
    • 1622, Francis Bacon, History of the Reign of King Henry VII, London: Matthew Lownes and William Barret, p. 37,
      […] the King began to find where his Shooe did wring him, and that it was his depressing of the House of YORKE, that did ranckle and fester the affections of his People.
    • 1702, Edward Hyde, 1st Earl of Clarendon, The History of the Rebellion, Oxford, 1707, Volume 1, Part 1, Book , p. 60,
      […] too much griev’d, and wrung by an uneasy and streight Fortune;
    • 1713, Joseph Addison, Cato, a Tragedy, London: J. Tonson, Act 1, Scene 1, p. 3,
      […] didst thou taste but half the Griefs
      That wring my Soul, thou cou’dst not talk thus coldly.
    • 1886, Robert Louis Stevenson, Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, London: Longmans, Green, “Henry Jekyll’s Full Statement of the Case,” p. 135,
      […] a stringent and profound slumber which not even the nightmares that wrung me could avail to break
    • 1927, Virginia Woolf To the Lighthouse, London: The Hogarth Press, Part 3, section 6, p. 275,
      And then to want and not to have—to want and want—how that wrung the heart, and wrung it again and again!
  7. (intransitive, obsolete) To twist, as if in pain.
    Synonyms: writhe
    • circa 1598 William Shakespeare, Much Ado about Nothing, Act V, Scene 1,
      […] ’tis all men’s office to speak patience
      To those that wring under the load of sorrow.
  8. (obsolete) To give an incorrect meaning to (words, teachings, etc.).
    Synonyms: distort, pervert, twist, wrest
    • 1572, John Whitgift, An Answere to a Certen Libel Intituled, An Admonition to the Parliament, London: Humfrey Toy, p. 39,
      Lord how dare these men thus wring the scriptures?
  9. (obsolete) To subject (someone) to extortion; to afflict or oppress in order to enforce compliance.
    • circa 1590, William Shakespeare, Henry VI, Part 2, Act V, Scene 1,
      To wring the widow from her custom’d right,
    • 1630, John Hayward (historian), The Life and Raigne of King Edward the Sixt, London: John Partridge, p. 144,
      […] the Merchant aduenturers haue beene often wronged and wringed to the quicke,
  10. (nautical) To bend or strain out of its position.
    to wring a mast
Translations Translations Translations
  • Portuguese: torcer
  • Russian: сжима́ть
  • Spanish: retorcer

wring (plural wrings)

  1. A powerful squeezing or twisting action.
    I grasped his hand and gave it a grateful wring.
    • 1697, John Vanbrugh, The Relapse, London: Samuel Briscoe, Act III, p. 45,
      Lo[ry]. […] I have been in a lamentable fright, Sir, ever since your Conscience had the Impudence to intrude into your Company.
      Y[oung] Fas[hion]. Be at peace; it will come there no more: My Brother has given it a wring by the Nose, and I have kick’d it down Stairs.
    • 1883, Robert Louis Stevenson, Treasure Island, London: Cassell, Part 3, Chapter 15, p. 123,
      He was still holding me by the wrist, and at that he gave it quite a wring.
    • 1919, Henry Blake Fuller, Bertram Cope's Year, Chicago: Ralph Fletcher Seymour, Chapter 6, p. 63,
      I tried not to give his poor hand too much of a wring (another of my bad habits); but he took all I gave and even seemed to hang on for a little more.
  2. (obsolete) Pain or distress.
    • 1637, Robert Monro, Monro His Expedition with the Worthy Scots Regiment, London, “The first Observation,” p. 3,
      When we have good dayes we slight them, when they are gone, we sinke under the wring of sorrow, for their losse;
  1. (archaic) A device for pressing or compressing, especially for cider.
    Synonyms: press
    • 1891, Thomas Hardy, Tess of the d'Urbervilles, London: James R. Osgood, Volume 2, Phase 3, Chapter 23, p. 32,
      They tossed and turned on their little beds, and the cheese-wring dripped monotonously downstairs.

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