Etymology
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wrench (v.)

Old English wrencan "to twist," from Proto-Germanic *wrankjan (source also of Old High German renken, German renken "to twist, wrench," Old English wringan "to wring"), from PIE *wreng- "to turn" (source also of Sanskrit vrnakti "turns, twists," Lithuanian rengtis "to grow crooked, to writhe"), nasalized variant of *werg- "to turn" (source also of Latin vergere "to turn, tend toward"), from root *wer- (2) "to turn, bend." Related: Wrenched, wrenching.

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wrest (v.)

Old English wræstan "to twist, wrench," from Proto-Germanic *wraistjan (source of Old Norse reista "to bend, twist"), from *wreik- "to turn," from PIE root *wer- (2) "to turn, bend." Compare wrist.

The meaning "to pull, detach" (something) is recorded from c. 1300. Meaning "to take by force" (in reference to power, authority, etc.) is attested from early 15c. Related: Wrested; wresting.

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wrestle (v.)

Old English *wræstlian, frequentative of wræstan "to wrest" (see wrest) with -el (3). Compare North Frisian wrassele, Middle Low German worstelen. Figurative sense is recorded from early 13c. Related: Wrestled; wrestling.

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wrestler (n.)

late Old English, agent noun from wrestle (v.).

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wrestling (n.)

Old English wræstlung, "sport of grappling and throwing," verbal noun from wrestle (v.). From c. 1300 as "action of wrestling, a wrestling match." Figurative use from c. 1200.

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wretch (n.)

Old English wrecca "wretch, stranger, exile," from Proto-Germanic *wrakjon "pursuer; one pursued" (source also of Old Saxon wrekkio, Old High German reckeo "a banished person, exile," German recke "renowned warrior, hero"), related to Old English wreccan "to drive out, punish" (see wreak). "The contrast in the development of the meaning in Eng. and German is remarkable" [OED]. Sense of "vile, despicable person" developed in Old English, reflecting the sorry state of the outcast, as presented in Anglo-Saxon verse (such as "The Wanderer"). Compare German Elend "misery," from Old High German elilenti "sojourn in a foreign land, exile."

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wretched (adj.)

c. 1200, wrecched, an irregular formation from wrecche "wretch" (see wretch). Also see wicked. Related: Wretchedly; wretchedness.

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wriggle (v.)

late 15c., from Middle Low German wrigglen "to wriggle," from Proto-Germanic *wrig-, from *wreik- "to turn," from PIE root *wer- (2) "to turn, bend." Related to Old English wrigian "to turn, incline, go forward."

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wright (n.)

Old English wryhta, wrihta (Northumbrian wyrchta, Kentish werhta) "worker," variant of earlier wyhrta "maker," from wyrcan "to work" (see work (v.)). Now usually in combinations (wheelwright, playwright, etc.) or as a surname. A common West Germanic word; cognate with Old Saxon wurhito, Old Frisian wrichta, Old High German wurhto.

The metathesis of an -r- and a vowel in words from Old English also can be seen in thrash, thresh, third, thirty, bird, wrought, and nostril.

Smith was the general term for a worker in metals, and wright for one who worked in wood, and other materials. Hence, in the later English period, smith (which, in Anglo-Saxon, when used without any characteristic addition, was understood as applying more particularly to the worker in iron,) became the particular name of a blacksmith, and wright of a carpenter, as it is still in Scotland. [Thomas Wright, "Anglo-Saxon and Old English Vocabularies," 1884]
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wring (v.)

Old English wringan "press, strain, wring, twist" (class III strong verb; past tense wrang, past participle wrungen), from Proto-Germanic *wreng- (source also of Old English wringen "to wring, press out," Old Frisian wringa, Middle Dutch wringhen, Dutch wringen "to wring," Old High German ringan "to move to and fro, to twist," German ringen "to wrestle"), from *wrengh-, nasalized variant of *wergh- "to turn," from PIE root *wer- (2) "to turn, bend." To wring (one's) hands "press the hands or fingers tightly together (as though wringing)" as an indication of distress or pain is attested from c. 1200.

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