ring vs. wring

What is the difference between ring and wring?

The word ring is an extremely common word with a broad range of meanings. Very generally, ring has two primary meanings as a noun and (by extension) as a verb. As a noun, it most commonly means “a circular shape, object, line, or arrangement” (often referring to a circular band worn on a finger), or “the act of ringing something or the sound made by ringing” (usually referring to a bell). As a verb, it refers to the action of encircling or forming into a circle, or to the action of producing a sonorous or resonant sound. For example:
  • “I always wear by grandfather’s ring to remind myself of him.”
  • “We knew that the ring of the church bells in the evening meant it was time to come home for dinner.”
  • “Attendees ringed the monument with flowers.”
  • “Please ring the bell if you need any assistance.”
The word wring is pronounced the same as ring (/rɪŋ/; the W is silent), but it has a much narrower definition. It is almost always used as a verb to mean “to twist, wrench, compress, or squeeze.” It can refer to the literal action of twisting or squeezing a physical object, or it can be used figuratively to refer to applying force or pressure to a person to obtain or extract something. For example:
  • “I had to wring out my shirt after the heavy rainfall.”
  • “We were finally able to wring an admission of guilt out of the suspect.”

Spelling Tricks and Tips

Because wring has to do with applying force, it can help to associate it with the word wrestle, which also has a silent W before R. If what you’re writing does not have to do with a forceful action, then ring is the correct spelling to use.
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