AskDefine | Define wreath

The Collaborative Dictionary

Wreath \Wreath\ (?; 277), n.; pl. Wreaths. [OE. wrethe, AS. wr[=ae][eth] a twisted band, fr. wr[imac][eth]an to twist. See Writhe.] [1913 Webster]
Something twisted, intertwined, or curled; as, a wreath of smoke; a wreath of flowers. "A wrethe of gold." --Chaucer. [1913 Webster] [He] of his tortuous train Curled many a wanton wreath. --Milton. [1913 Webster]
A garland; a chaplet, esp. one given to a victor. [1913 Webster] Conquest doth grant He dear wreath to the Grecian combatant. --Chapman. [1913 Webster] Far back in the ages, The plow with wreaths was crowned. --Bryant. [1913 Webster]
(Her.) An appendage to the shield, placed above it, and supporting the crest (see Illust. of Crest). It generally represents a twist of two cords of silk, one tinctured like the principal metal, the other like the principal color in the arms. [1913 Webster]
Wreathe \Wreathe\, v. t. [imp. Wreathed; p. p. Wreathed; Archaic Wreathen; p. pr. & vb. n. Wreathing.] [See Wreath, n.] [Written also wreath.] [1913 Webster]
To cause to revolve or writhe; to twist about; to turn. [Obs.] [1913 Webster] And from so heavy sight his head did wreathe. --Spenser. [1913 Webster]
To twist; to convolve; to wind one about another; to entwine. [1913 Webster] The nods and smiles of recognition into which this singular physiognomy was wreathed. --Sir W. Scott. [1913 Webster] From his slack hand the garland wreathed for Eve Down dropped. --Milton. [1913 Webster]
To surround with anything twisted or convolved; to encircle; to infold. [1913 Webster] Each wreathed in the other's arms. --Shak. [1913 Webster] Dusk faces with withe silken turbants wreathed. --Milton. [1913 Webster] And with thy winding ivy wreathes her lance. --Dryden. [1913 Webster]
To twine or twist about; to surround; to encircle. [1913 Webster] In the flowers that wreathe the sparkling bowl, Fell adders hiss. --Prior. [1913 Webster]

Word Net

wreath n : flower arrangement consisting of a circular band of foliage or flowers for ornamental purposes [syn: garland, coronal, chaplet, lei] v : encircle with or as if with a wreath; "Her face was wreathed with blossoms" [syn: wreathe]

Moby Thesaurus

O, Old Mug, achievement, alerion, animal charge, annular muscle, annulet, annulus, areola, argent, armorial bearings, armory, arms, aureole, azure, bandeau, bar, bar sinister, baton, bays, bearings, bend, bend sinister, billet, blazon, blazonry, bordure, boughpot, bouquet, boutonniere, braid, broad arrow, buttonhole, cadency mark, canton, chaplet, charge, chevron, chief, circle, circuit, circumference, circus, civic crown, closed circle, coat of arms, cockatrice, corona, coronal, coronet, corsage, crescent, crest, cross, cross moline, crown, cup, cycle, device, diadem, difference, differencing, discus, disk, eagle, ermine, ermines, erminites, erminois, escutcheon, eternal return, fairy ring, falcon, fess, fess point, festoon, field, file, flanch, fleur-de-lis, flower arrangement, fret, fur, fusil, garland, glory, griffin, gules, gyron, halo, hatchment, helmet, heraldic device, honor point, impalement, impaling, inescutcheon, label, lasso, laurel, laurels, lei, lion, logical circle, loop, looplet, loving cup, lozenge, magic circle, mantling, marshaling, martlet, mascle, metal, motto, mullet, nombril point, noose, nosegay, octofoil, or, orbit, ordinary, orle, pale, palm, palms, paly, pean, pheon, plait, posy, pot, purpure, quarter, quartering, radius, ring, rondelle, rose, round, roundel, sable, saltire, saucer, scutcheon, shield, sphincter, spray, spread eagle, subordinary, tenne, tincture, torse, tressure, trophy, unicorn, vair, vert, vicious circle, wheel, wreathwork, yale




  1. Something twisted, intertwined, or curled.
    a wreath of smoke
    a wreath of clouds
  2. An ornamental circular band made e.g. of plaited flowers and leaves, and used as decoration; a garland; a chaplet, esp. one given to a victor.
  3. An appendage to the shield, placed above it, and supporting the crest. It generally represents a twist of two cords of silk, one tinctured like the principal metal, the other like the principal color in the coat of arms.


something twisted and curled
  • Finnish: kiehkura
ornamental circular band
  • Danish: krans
  • Finnish: seppele, kranssi
  • German: Kranz
  • Polish: wianek
  • Russian: венок
  • Serbian: venac
  • Swedish: krans
heraldry: support of a crest
  • Finnish: lakipunos


  1. To place an entwined circle of flowers upon or around something.
  2. To wrap around something in a circle.
    At the funeral, a circle of comrades wreath the grave of the honored deceased.


to place a wreath around something
  • Finnish: seppelöidä
to wrap around something in a circle
  • Finnish: ympäröidä
A wreath is a ring made of flowers, leaves and sometimes fruits that can be used as an ornament, hanging on a wall or door, or resting on a table. A small wreath can be also worn on the head as a form of headdress.


Wreaths are commonly made by evergreens as a symbol for the strength of life, with these plants overcoming even the harshest winters. Such wreaths often use Bay Laurel (Laurus nobilis) and can be categorized as laurel wreaths. Other components of a wreath can be pine, holly or yew, symbolizing immortality, and cedar, symbolizing strength and healing. The Greek god Apollo is often associated with wreaths, and was a god of life and health. This inspired the Greek to use the symbol as crowns of victory at the Pythian Games, a forerunner to today's Olympic Games. The circularity of wreaths can be used to symbolize eternity or immortality (see Crown of Immortality).
In Northern Europe, wreaths made of branches of conifer trees (especially firs) are commonly used as a symbol of remembrance of the dead. For that purpose, such wreaths are often left at graves at burial (and sometimes, significant anniversaries thereof), or in cases of burial-at-sea, left to float at the sea.

Use by culture

These wreaths are festive crowns worn by many Romans. Wreaths were usually for women, and men usually wore crowns. They were a symbol of pride, and they were usually handmade. Most were made of flowers and branches, twigs, thread, and laurels. Wreaths were often used on special occasions such as weddings. They are also used on Remembrance Day (Canada), as a respect to those who fought and died in the Great war.


A wreath made of mostly evergreen tree twigs, sometimes with pine cones and/or a bow made of red ribbon is a common Christmas decoration. Christian households and churches often use an advent wreath made with four (or five) candles in preparation for Christmas.It is used to hang on a door as a symbol for the never-ending love of Christ.
While they are common today, their use was actually condemned as idolatry by the theological writer Tertullian in the early third century:
But "let your works shine," saith He; but now all our shops and gates shine! You will now-a-days find more doors of heathens without lamps and laurel-wreaths than of Christians...Idolatry is condemned, not on account of the persons which are set up for worship, but on account of those its observances, which pertain to demons (Tertullian. On Idolatry, Chapter XV. Translated by S. Thelwall. Excerpted from Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 3. Edited by Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson. American Edition, 1885. Online Edition Copyright © 2004 by K. Knight).
Irrespective of Tertullian's complaints, wreaths have remained popular, especially during the Christmas season.


A wreath of laurel was used to crown winners of olympic competitions, inherited from one of the symbols of the god Apollo, who is often depicted wearing or holding a wreath of laurel leaves. Olive wreaths were also given to olympic victors. The flowers are always white.


Laurel wreaths were worn on the heads of military and government officials in parades. Roman consuls and senators wore wreaths of olive leaves in public. Funeral wreaths were a Roman custom. They often appear carved on sarcophagi.

As an attire

A wreath is a headdress made from leaves, flowers and branches. It is typically worn in festive occasions and on holy days.


External links

wreath in German: Kranz
wreath in Japanese: リース (装飾)
wreath in Polish: Wianek
wreath in Russian: Венок
wreath in Swedish: Krans
wreath in Thai: พวงหรีด
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