rest vs. wrest

What is the difference between rest and wrest?

The homophones rest and wrest can sometimes give writers difficulty because of the silent W in the latter word. However, the two have very different meanings.
Rest has a wide range of definitions, but it primarily means “a period or state of motionlessness, inactivity, relaxation, or sleep,” or, as a verb, “to be in or cause to be in a state or motionlessness, inactivity, relaxation, or sleep.” For example:
  • “We stopped for a rest on the banks of the river.”
  • “The computer is getting a little overheated; I think you should give it a rest for a while.”
  • “As a premium member, you’ll be able to rest in our VIP lounge after the show.”
  • “The car rested to a stop on the top of the hill.”
Wrest, on the other hand, is almost always used as a verb meaning “to take or remove with a forceful pulling or twisting motion” or “to obtain, take possession of, or usurp through forceful means or with persistent effort.” For example:
  • “He wrested the bicycle out of the tiny shed, nearly breaking it in the process.”
  • “The revolution led to the populace wresting power from the monarchy.”
  • “After hours of grilling the CEO, the panel finally managed to wrest an admission of guilt from him.”

Spelling Tricks and Tips

A quick tip to remember the difference between these two words is that wrest is related in meaning and origin to wrestle, which also has to do with gaining control by force.
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