A single Indo-European root *wer has transmuted into a dozen concepts in English. The verb means “to turn or bend,” and gives us such constructions as -ward, as in toward, rightward, forward. You can notice the turn or bend in that. Through a Germanic root meaning “to become,” we get the English concept of worth. A twist of fate – the metaphor is millennia old – became wyrd, weird. Verse, version, vertebra, adverse, extrovert, subvert, universe. You can see the “turn” concept behind all of them.
I’ve hardly begun with *wer, but we can already see the metaphorical and abstract uses multiplying. Even getting your head around the general concept of what a turn is is well beyond a chimp or a dolphin (though they might get concrete examples), but this is many times more complex than even that basic idea.
Wreath, writhe, and wrath all come from a *wer descendant meaning “to twist.” Even in English there is enough similarity in the sound of the words that we have to use very precise decoding and numerous cues from context to separate them, but we do it automatically. Worry, wring, wrong, and wrangle all come from twist.
With a bit of sound-change we arrive at bracken and briar, twisted plants. Our remote ancestors called everything with a bend in it “that twisty thing” at first, but learned to shade it so subtly that with the tiniest of changes our hearers know exactly what kind of twisty thing we are talking about – whether it is an object, an emotion, or a fate that is being twisted. Even ribald, rhombus, and brusque came out of *wer, through many variations.
Rhapsody (through a verb to sew – see the turn?)
When I said a dozen concepts above, I lied, so as not to scare you away. These words all come from only one version of *wer. There are other roots strikingly similar that have nothing to do with bending - other *wer’s as it were, that mean to raise or lift, a bodily infirmity, to perceive or watch, to cover, to burn, water, a squirrel – all unrelated, and each having its own many descendants. Not to mention *were, *were, and *were, meaning broad, to find, and to speak. *were-o trustworthy, *wiro man.