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.
Proto-Indo-European root forming words meaning "to turn, bend."
It forms all or part of: adverse; anniversary; avert; awry; controversy; converge; converse (adj.) "exact opposite;" convert; diverge; divert; evert; extroversion; extrovert; gaiter; introrse; introvert; invert; inward; malversation; obverse; peevish; pervert; prose; raphe; reverberate; revert; rhabdomancy; rhapsody; rhombus; ribald; sinistrorse; stalwart; subvert; tergiversate; transverse; universe; verbena; verge (v.1) "tend, incline;" vermeil; vermicelli; vermicular; vermiform; vermin; versatile; verse (n.) "poetry;" version; verst; versus; vertebra; vertex; vertigo; vervain; vortex; -ward; warp; weird; worm; worry; worth (adj.) "significant, valuable, of value;" worth (v.) "to come to be;" wrangle; wrap; wrath; wreath; wrench; wrest; wrestle; wriggle; wring; wrinkle; wrist; writhe; wrong; wroth; wry.
It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Sanskrit vartate "turns round, rolls;" Avestan varet- "to turn;" Hittite hurki- "wheel;" Greek rhatane "stirrer, ladle;" Latin vertere (frequentative versare) "to turn, turn back, be turned; convert, transform, translate; be changed," versus "turned toward or against;" Old Church Slavonic vrŭteti "to turn, roll," Russian vreteno "spindle, distaff;" Lithuanian verčiu, versti "to turn;" German werden, Old English weorðan "to become;" Old English -weard "toward," originally "turned toward," weorthan "to befall," wyrd "fate, destiny," literally "what befalls one;" Welsh gwerthyd "spindle, distaff;" Old Irish frith "against."
1580s, "twist the true meaning, pervert the truth regarding," from Latin distortus, past participle of distorquere "to twist different ways, distort," from dis- "completely" (see dis-) + torquere "to twist" (from PIE root *terkw- "to twist"). Literal sense of "to twist or wrest out of shape, change from the proper to an improper or unnatural shape" is from 1630s. Related: Distorted; distorting.
1520s, "obtain by force or compulsion; wrest away by oppressive means," from Latin extortus, past participle of extorquere "obtain by force," literally "to wrench out," from ex "out" (see ex-) + torquere "to twist" (from PIE root *terkw- "to twist"). Related: Extorted; extorting. As a past-participle adjective from early 15c.
"the act of extorting, the act or of wresting anything from a person by force, duress, menace, authority, or any undue exercise of power, oppressive or illegal exaction," c. 1300, from Latin extortionem (nominative extortio) "a twisting out, extorting," noun of action from past-participle stem of extorquere "wrench out, wrest away, to obtain by force," from ex "out" (see ex-) + torquere "to twist" (from PIE root *terkw- "to twist").