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[dih-stawr-shuh n] /dɪˈstɔr ʃən/
an act or instance of distorting.
the state of being distorted or the relative degree or amount by which something is distorted or distorts.
anything that is distorted, as a sound, image, fact, etc.
Optics. an aberration of a lens or system of lenses in which the magnification of the object varies with the lateral distance from the axis of the lens.
Origin of distortion
First recorded in 1575-85, distortion is from the Latin word distortiōn- (stem of distortiō). See distort, -ion
Related forms
distortional, distortionary, adjective
nondistortion, noun
overdistortion, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for distortion
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Watch and remodel details if any distortion attends the drying process.

    Taxidermy Leon Luther Pray
  • This distortion of the story is true to the traditions of legend-making.

    The Evolution of the Dragon G. Elliot Smith
  • It results in impoverishment and distortion and subsequent deficiency.

  • To feel for others what they do not feel for themselves is a distortion of sympathy which often afflicts me.

    The King's Mirror Anthony Hope
  • It was the ready exemplar of American distortion and absurdity in the domain of Art.

    Glances at Europe Horace Greeley
British Dictionary definitions for distortion


the act or an instance of distorting or the state of being distorted
something that is distorted
an aberration of a lens or optical system in which the magnification varies with the lateral distance from the axis
  1. an undesired change in the shape of an electromagnetic wave or signal
  2. the result of such a change in waveform, esp a loss of clarity in radio reception or sound reproduction
(psychol) a change in perception so that it does not correspond to reality
(psychoanal) the disguising of the meaning of unconscious thoughts so that they may appear in consciousness, e.g. in dreams
Derived Forms
distortional, adjective
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 distortion

1580s, "action of distorting," from Latin distortionem (nominative distortio), noun of action from past participle stem of distorquere (see distort). Figurative use (of words, etc.) from 1640s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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distortion in Medicine

distortion dis·tor·tion (dĭ-stôr'shən)

  1. A twisting out of normal shape or form.

  2. A psychological defense mechanism that helps to repress or disguise unacceptable thoughts.

  3. Parataxic distortion.

dis·tor'tion·al or dis·tor'tion·ar'y adj.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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