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[kuh n-tawrt] /kənˈtɔrt/
verb (used with object)
to twist, bend, or draw out of shape; distort.
verb (used without object)
to become twisted, distorted, or strained:
His face contorted into a grotesque sneer.
Origin of contort
1555-65; < Latin contortus twisted together, past participle of contorquēre. See con-, tort Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for contort
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Let talent writhe and contort itself as it may, it has no such magnetism.

  • She did not see his face change and contort itself into malignancy.

    The Soul Stealer Cyril Arthur Edward Ranger Gull
  • I kept seeing that Spanish woman whirl around and contort, and—do you mind my telling you?

    The Golden House Charles Dudley Warner
  • contort the eyebrow sufficiently, and place the eyeball near it,—by a few lines you have anger or fierceness depicted.

    Roundabout Papers William Makepeace Thackeray
  • He could see her breast and shoulders heave and twist, and contort in a fury of effort.

    Angel Island Inez Haynes Gillmore
  • Field could contort his face into a thunder-cloud which could send children almost into convulsions of fear.

  • As he spoke a spasm seemed to contort the body of the dying man.

  • The rabbit, which had been hanging placidly suspended, was now seized with spasms and began to twitch and contort violently.

    Boy Woodburn Alfred Ollivant
British Dictionary definitions for contort


to twist or bend severely out of place or shape, esp in a strained manner
Derived Forms
contortive, adjective
Word Origin
C15: from Latin contortus intricate, obscure, from contorquēre to whirl around, from torquēre to twist, wrench
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for contort

early 15c., from Latin contortus, past participle of contorquere "to whirl, twist together," from com- "together" or intensive (see com-) + torquere "to twist" (see thwart). Related: Contorted; contorting.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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