The most familiar use of wrought is probably "wrought iron," as in iron that's malleable and able to be shaped and, for example, made into fences.

All the dictionary definitions of wrought are along those lines.

Full Definition of wrought from Merriam Webster:

1 : worked into shape by artistry or effort [carefully wrought essays]

2 : elaborately embellished : ornamented

3 : processed for use : manufactured [wrought silk]

4 : beaten into shape by tools : hammered — used of metals

5 : deeply stirred : excited — often used with up [gets easily wrought up over nothing]

So I feel like it would be safe to say that wrought from basically means formed by. I find that in my writing, I often want to use it in that context, but I always hesitate and feel unsure whether it would be correct.

The example I'm currently working with is a character looking at all the calluses on their hands, which are the result of handling a variety of tools and weaponry. The sentence would go something like this:

Her own calluses, wrought from years of handling those same tools and weapons, would probably never fade.

I feel like wrought from makes sense here (by which I mean a reader would at least understand what I was talking about), but I'm not sure if it's technically correct to use it this way. Anyone have any thoughts or definitive answers?

  • 1
    I'd say "wrought" and "formed" could work as rough synonyms in your context, but you can't change the preposition "from" to "by": that inverts subject and object. A sword is wrought from iron, but wrought by a blacksmith.
    – Dan Bron
    Aug 2, 2016 at 18:40
  • @DanBron ooh good point. So it would need to either be "wrought/formed by" or "wrought/formed from", but not "wrought from/formed by." I see what you mean.
    – EJF
    Aug 2, 2016 at 18:48
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    Right. Also just FYI the connotations of the two words differ slightly, and therefore lend different nuances to your usage. "Wrought" means "worked, created" by a sentient agent, whereas "formed" is neutral in the sense of agency. Sand dunes are formed over centuries of accumulation, but they are wrought by the relentless desert winds (i.e. in this latter case you're anthropomorphising the winds).
    – Dan Bron
    Aug 2, 2016 at 18:59
  • @DanBron that makes sense. I've been sitting here trying to decide whether or not the aforementioned calluses are the result of physically touching the tools and weapons (which I guess they technically would be) or whether they're the result of "years of using" those tools and weapons. The latter is a more abstract concept, and that's something to take into consideration when it comes to word choice...hmm
    – EJF
    Aug 2, 2016 at 19:04

1 Answer 1


I would not employ wrought (or its modern form worked) to express the process by which calluses are formed.

It seems to me that these words imply agency and volition: somebody deliberately sets out to work their material into the desired form. Even the metaphorical extension to emotional states implies agency: when we say someone is "wrought up" we suggest that they have worked themselves up into anger or distress.

But calluses are an incidental by-product of the activity on which a craftsman is focused. I feel that speaking of calluses as wrought would be rather precious even among those artists such as guitarists and baseball pitchers who welcome the calluses: this source, for instance, offers tips for assuring that calluses will develop but insists that

The most effective way to build calluses is through good old-fashioned practice.
[. . .]
Keep playing regularly. Learn to embrace the pain, knowing it will pass. Don't let sore fingertips stand between you and your dream of playing guitar. Don't give up, toughen up.

And finally, remember that you've worked hard for your calluses. Keep them the same way you earned them—practice, practice, and more practice—and your tips will serve you a lifetime.

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