put through the wringer: Idiom Meaning and Origin

What does ‘put through the wringer’ mean?

<p>The idiom <em>put through the wringer</em> means to subject someone or something to a difficult or challenging experience that tests their endurance or resilience. It is often used to describe being put under intense pressure or scrutiny.</p>

Idiom Explorer

Unveiling Hidden Origins

The idiom "put through the wringer" is a commonly used phrase in American English that refers to subjecting someone or something to a rigorous or demanding experience. The term originates from the early 20th century and is derived from the laundry practice of using a wringer to remove excess water from clothes after washing them. This mechanical process involved feeding the wet clothing between two rollers and exerting pressure to squeeze out the water.

The idiom "put through the wringer" metaphorically represents subjecting someone or something to intense scrutiny, pressure, or ordeal. It implies a sense of undergoing a challenging experience that may cause distress or exhaustion. Individuals who go through such experiences often feel emotionally drained or mentally fatigued.

Furthermore, the phrase also carries connotations of vulnerability. When someone is put through the wringer, it can feel as if they are being wrung out to extract every last drop of something, whether it be information, resources, or energy. This vulnerability adds to the idiom's implication of being thoroughly examined or tested.

The idiom "put through the wringer" is commonly used in contexts where individuals describe their experiences of being interrogated, interviewed, or facing intense challenges. It is often associated with situations that require individuals to undergo a grueling process that may leave them feeling exhausted, emotionally drained, or overwhelmed.

Experienced writer categorises idioms in advanced, in-depth New York Times article.

In popular culture, the idiom has been used in various forms, such as in literature, film, and television. It is frequently employed to depict characters who face difficult circumstances or are subjected to relentless pressure. When used in these mediums, the phrase evokes a sense of empathy or understanding from the audience, who can relate to the intense experiences portrayed.

The idiom "put through the wringer" shares similarities with other idioms that convey a similar sense of going through a challenging experience. One such idiom is "put through the mangle", which also refers to subjecting something or someone to a demanding or difficult ordeal. The usage of the word "mangle" instead of "wringer" highlights the different equipment used in the laundry process, but the overall meaning remains the same.

Another related idiom is "go through the mill", which suggests going through a tough or trying experience. Similar to being put through the wringer, going through the mill can leave a person feeling mentally and emotionally exhausted. It conveys the idea of facing various challenges that test one's resilience and strength.

Yet another related idiom is "go through hell", which emphasizes the extreme nature of the experience. It implies that the person is facing a situation that is particularly difficult, intense, or painful. Going through hell can leave a person feeling deeply traumatized or scarred by the ordeal.

Additionally, the phrase "put through" can also be related to the idiom "put through the wringer". "Put through" can mean subjecting someone to a challenging or strenuous experience. It can imply that someone is being tested or pushed to their limits in order to achieve a goal or overcome an obstacle.

The idiom "put through the wringer" is a vivid phrase deeply rooted in the American lexicon. It captures the concept of subjecting someone or something to intense scrutiny or pressure, drawing from the physical act of putting clothes through a mechanical wringer. It conveys a sense of vulnerability, fatigue, and emotional strain, and is commonly used to describe experiences of being interrogated, interviewed, or facing intense challenges. The idiom shares similarities with other idioms such as "put through the mangle", "go through the mill", "go through hell", and "put through", which all convey a similar sense of going through a demanding experience.

Example usage

Examples of how the idiom "put through the wringer" can be used in a sentence:

1. After his team's loss in the championship game, the coach put the players through the wringer during practice, pushing them to their limits.

2. The company's new CEO was put through the wringer by the board of directors, who questioned every decision she made.

3. The main character in the novel goes through a series of unfortunate events that put her through the wringer emotionally and physically.

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