Retch vs Wretch? How Are They Different From Each Other?


retch vs wretch

Homophones are perhaps one of the trickiest aspects of the English language. Imagine two words sounding alike yet different in meaning. It then gets even worse when these words have very similar spellings. This is the case with “retch” vs. “wretch.” So, how are they different from each other?

“Retch” functions as a verb and conveys to vomit or to feel like you want to vomit. It also functions as a noun and means the act of dry heaving or vomiting. On the other hand, “wretch” is strictly a noun. It refers to any person that is unfortunate or unhappy. It also refers to a vile person.

Regardless, the correct use of both words is only possible through an in-depth understanding of both words. We bet you are looking to get this. Well, we have got you covered. In this article, we will dive into the details.

When and How to Use the Word “Retch” in a Sentence”

retch word neon sign

First, we will begin with a thorough examination of when and how to use “retch” in a sentence. As such, we will dive into the nature and meaning of the word to achieve this. This is thanks to the relationship between a word’s meaning and nature and its subsequent use.

However, before we do this, there is one thing you need to understand to get the full picture. This is the origin of the word “retch.” You can trace the word back to the mid-nineteenth century. The root word “rechen” then has its roots in the old English word “hrǣcan.” In turn, this means “hawk” or “to spit.”

Now, what do we mean when we say the meaning and nature of a word, and why is this examination important?

The nature of a word concerns the way you use the word in a sentence. It refers to what form it takes and the function it performs in a sentence. Generally, this is determined by the parts of speech that the word falls under. So, when a word is a verb, that is its nature. 

This is because this is what will determine how it works in a sentence. For instance, a verb will function to provide an action word. On the other hand, a noun will act as an identifier. All these relate to the nature of a word. Also, keep in mind that a word can have multiple functions when it takes a different part of speech. For instance, where a word is both a verb and an adjective depending on the circumstances. 

On the other hand, the meaning of a word is one that comes to you easily. It refers to the thoughts that come to your mind or the idea that a word conveys. So, ask yourself, what do you understand when you see a word. Well, that is the meaning of the word.

So, now that we have cleared that up let us get right to the meaning and nature of the word “retch.”

The word “retch” is predominantly a verb. As such, it functions to depict an action getting performed in a sentence. So, if you are wondering how to use the word “retch” in a sentence, you can use it as a verb.

Now, concerning what meaning the word “retch” conveys as a verb, it means to vomit. It can also mean to feel like you want to vomit. So, as a verb, you can use the word “retch” to convey that someone vomited or wants to vomit. Now, here are some examples that bring perspective to the use of this word in this sense.

  1. You should eat more slowly and push the food down unless, of course, you want to retch.
  2. I have realized that sick people will retch when they eat a portion of food without sufficient pepper.

However, as we hinted above, a word can have more than one nature. This is the case with the word “retch.” Precisely, the word can also function as a noun in a sentence. In this instance, it identifies something and can function as the object or subject in a sentence. 

Now, onto its meaning, what meaning does the word “retch” convey when you use it as a noun? When you use the word “retch” as a noun, it refers to the act of dry heaving or vomiting. So, the word “retch” identifies the act of vomiting by a person. As you can see, this use is still related to the origin of the word.

So, if you are wondering when and how to use the word “retch” in a sentence, here you go. Beyond its use as a verb, you can also use the word as a noun to convey the act of dry heaving or vomiting by a person. Here are some examples that show how to use the word “retch” in this sense.

  1. I have no idea why you are making that face; the food hardly warrants a retch.
  2. Is that what you call a burpy retch?

When and How to Use the Word “Wretch” in a Sentence?

wretch word in dictionary

Next up, we will dive into when and how to use the word “wretch” in a sentence. As we did above, we need to consider the nature and meaning of the word. This is because both considerations are the key to a thorough understanding of the use of any word.

As a refresher, when we talk about a word’s nature, we refer to its function within a sentence. As we stated above, this is usually determined by the part of speech that the word falls under. So, a word categorized as a noun will have its nature as that of a noun.

In turn, it will function to identify a thing, and when you use it, you must use the word as such. Although, you must also keep in mind that a word can have more than one nature, as we saw in the case of the word “retch” above.

On the other hand, the meaning of a word simply involves the thought that a word conveys. So, when you see a word, what you think of or understand as the word is its meaning. For instance, when you see the word “both,” what comes to your mind is two things getting affected. Well, that is what the meaning of a word involves. 

Now, what is the nature and meaning of the word “wretch?”

The word “wretch” is a noun. In turn, when you use it in a sentence, it identifies an idea and stands as either the object or subject of the sentence. So, remember, you use the word “wretch” as a noun when you are writing.

Now, regarding the meaning that the word conveys in a sentence, it is necessary to know the world’s origin to grasp it fully. This word comes from a pre-twelfth century word. It is derived from the Middle English word “wrecche,” which is also related to the Old English word “wrecca.”

This word conveyed “an outcast.” In turn, it is from this word that the recent meaning of the word emerged. Today, the word refers to any person that is unfortunate or unhappy. It also refers to a vile person.

So, when it comes to using the word, you use it to express that someone is vile, unfortunate, or unhappy. Now, here are some examples that will help you understand the use of the word.

  1. It was very sad looking at the poor wretch; he can hardly afford the necessities of life. 
  2. Tyler is a low-life wretch; he gets money by ripping people off their money.
  3. My friend was treated like a poor wretch because no one knew he was royalty.

Understanding the Difference Between Both Words

So far, it has become clearer than ever that both words are distinct. Yes, they share the same pronunciation. Yes, they have almost the same spelling. However, when it comes to the meaning and use of the word, they are entirely different. This is also the same with their origin.

However, while this is crystal clear, remembering the appropriate spelling can come with some confusion. This is even made worse by the similarities in pronunciation and spelling that we mentioned earlier. Regardless, we have got you covered with a trick that will make your task easier than ever.

girl about retch

All you need to remember is that the word “wretch” relates to someone who does wrong things. As you can see, both words – “wretch” and “wrong” – begins with the letter “w.” So, go for “wretch” when you are trying to convey this meaning. On the other hand, by elimination, you go for “retch” when you are talking about vomiting.

Final Thoughts

We are always concerned about using the appropriate word when writing. However, it is not always easy, thanks to confusing words. One of such situations is with “wretch” and “retch.” We understand that you are looking to beat this confusion. 

In turn, in this article, we have discussed in detail what you need to know. So, read up and stay informed.

Shawn Manaher

Shawn Manaher is the founder and CEO of The Content Authority. He's one part content manager, one part writing ninja organizer, and two parts leader of top content creators. You don't even want to know what he calls pancakes.

Recent Posts