With all their limbs tied down to a bed, what do we call the panicked movement of someone trying to break free somehow?

He tried to ____________ out of the bed.

  • 3
    One struggles against his restraints. – Dan Bron Oct 7 '16 at 12:14
  • 2
    Yep, struggle is the first term that came to mind. "Struggle to break free" is quite idiomatic, used both literally and figuratively. – Hot Licks Oct 7 '16 at 12:18
  • @HotLicks You may recall that I asked you if there was anything you don't know. Only afterwards did I grasp your answer. I'm slow. – Richard Kayser Oct 8 '16 at 16:00

While I agree that struggling should suffice in general, in the specific case of trying to break free from restraints (like ropes), wriggling works better.

He tried to wriggle out of the bed.


wriggle VERB

1 Twist and turn with quick writhing movements.
[no object] ‘she kicked and wriggled but he held her firmly’
[with object] ‘she wriggled her bare, brown toes’

1.1 [no object, with adverbial of direction] Move in a particular direction with wriggling movements.
‘Susie wriggled out of her clothes’

‘With a brief, feeble attempt she tried to wriggle out of what bound her wrists, but to no avail.’


wriggle; wriggled, wriggling intransitive verb

1 : to move the body or a bodily part to and fro with short writhing motions like a worm : squirm
2 : to move or advance by twisting and turning
3 : to extricate or insinuate oneself or reach a goal as if by wriggling

She managed to wriggle free of her ropes.

extricate transitive verb

2 : to free or remove from an entanglement or difficulty

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You strain against your shackles.


12. to pull forcibly: a dog straining at a leash.

13. to stretch one's muscles, nerves, etc., to the utmost.

14. to make violent physical efforts; strive hard.

15. to resist forcefully; balk: to strain at accepting an unpleasant fact.

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  • @habibhassani - note that wriggle and extricate suggest success, where strain implies failure. That is not absolute -- but it could help you distinguish among the options offered. – aparente001 Oct 8 '16 at 21:45

How about wrestle?

He tried to wrestle out of the bed.

From Oxford Dictionaries:

wrestle: move or manipulate (something) with difficulty.

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You might try flail.

flail: Wave or swing wildly.

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Burst could work.


verb (used without object), burst or, often bursted, bursting.

  1. to issue forth suddenly and forcibly, as from confinement or through an obstacle:

He tried to burst out of the bed.

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