I've checked the meaning of fold in online dictionaries, it means:

  • to bend a piece of paper, cloth etc by laying or pressing one part over another
  • to fold something several times so that it makes a small neat shape
  • if something such as a piece of furniture folds, or you fold it, you make it smaller or move it to a different position by bending it
  • o cover something, especially by wrapping it in material or putting your hand over it 1

but I don't understand what the writer means when she says:

wrist folded absurdly onto itself

Could you explain it to me?

The full text is here:

He grabbed my wrist and my body slipped into the familiar posture, head thrust forward, arm coiled around my lower back, wrist folded absurdly onto itself. Like a dance step, my muscles remembered and raced to get ahead of the music. The air poured from my lungs as I tried to bend deeper, to give my wristbone every possible inch of relief.

1 Answer 1


You are quite correct with your usual definition of "folding" when used in connection with paper as an example. This is an interesting use of language in connection with the wrist. It is not everyday speech, but rather creative writing, and to an English speaker familiar with the concept of "folding" it isn't hard to comprehend.

The "first person" in the text seems to be being attacked, and their assailant has grabbed their wrist and bent, or "folded" it back on itself. This is a well known way of incapacitating somebody and a similar, although hopefully more humane method is used by the police to incapacitate someone. Once a person is held in this position by their wrist, the more they move, the more painful it is. When used humanely it prevents a person from struggling, as the only pain they feel is inflicted by themselves.

rear wristlockwrist folded unto itself

In your quoted text though, it sounds much more brutal. It says that the wrist was bent/twisted "absurdly". This means strange, or unusual, and suggests that the assailant bent the person's wrist into a shape that is clearly not meant to go into, causing undue pain.

  • And what about the meaning of "onto itself"?
    – Peace
    Commented Jul 2, 2018 at 9:57
  • 1
    (edited) I thought about posting an answer showing how a wrist could be bent "onto itself", but your answer was so good and so thorough I couldn't add anything new. Hope you don't mind the images, they're taken from the YouTube video whose link you posted. Please feel free to rollback if you dislike the addition.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Jul 18, 2018 at 10:07

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