Old English wrenc "a twisting, artifice, trick;" see wrench (v.). The meaning "tool with jaws at one end for turning or holding" is first recorded 1794.
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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