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[tawr-cher] /ˈtɔr tʃər/
the act of inflicting excruciating pain, as punishment or revenge, as a means of getting a confession or information, or for sheer cruelty.
a method of inflicting such pain.
Often, tortures. the pain or suffering caused or undergone.
extreme anguish of body or mind; agony.
a cause of severe pain or anguish.
verb (used with object), tortured, torturing.
to subject to torture.
to afflict with severe pain of body or mind:
My back is torturing me.
to force or extort by torture:
We'll torture the truth from his lips!
to twist, force, or bring into some unnatural position or form:
trees tortured by storms.
to distort or pervert (language, meaning, etc.).
Origin of torture
First recorded in 1530-40, torture is from the Late Latin word tortūra a twisting, torment, torture. See tort, -ure
Related forms
torturable, adjective
torturedly, adverb
torturer, noun
torturesome, adjective
torturingly, adverb
overtorture, verb (used with object), overtortured, overtorturing.
pretorture, noun, verb (used with object), pretortured, pretorturing.
self-torture, noun
self-tortured, adjective
self-torturing, adjective
untortured, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for tortured
Historical Examples
  • tortured by his patient smile, she followed him out into the dim hall, half blinded by her burning tears.

    Terry Charles Goff Thomson
  • tortured by the world and the world's law, yet Heaven's peace had settled on her.

    A Son of Hagar Sir Hall Caine
  • tortured as I was, yet I could not but think of the wife and child far away praying for his safe return.

    My Lady of the North Randall Parrish
  • tortured by his inward agitation, he rose and began to pace the room.

    The Child of Pleasure Gabriele D'Annunzio
  • tortured as he was with pain, he begged the bystanders to forgive him for being so unconscionable a time in dying.

  • tortured by these imaginings, I rose up from the pavement and stood erect.

    Vendetta Marie Corelli
  • tortured both in heart and conscience, Mainwaring felt as if he had but one wish left in the world,—to see Susan once more.

    Lucretia, Complete Edward Bulwer-Lytton
  • tortured, humiliated, helpless, he saw the lash that cut him fall also upon her.

    The Business of Life Robert W. Chambers
  • tortured by the wound Erect he rose, the arrow in his brain,100 And writhing furious, scared his fellow-steeds.

  • tortured you may be to the verge of the grave, but never into it.

    Mabel's Mistake Ann S. Stephens
British Dictionary definitions for tortured


verb (transitive)
to cause extreme physical pain to, esp in order to extract information, break resistance, etc: to torture prisoners
to give mental anguish to
to twist into a grotesque form
physical or mental anguish
the practice of torturing a person
a cause of mental agony or worry
Derived Forms
tortured, adjective
torturedly, adverb
torturer, noun
torturesome, torturous, adjective
torturing, adjective
torturingly, adverb
torturously, adverb
Usage note
The adjective torturous is sometimes confused with tortuous. One speaks of a torturous experience, i.e. one that involves pain or suffering, but of a tortuous road, i.e. one that winds or twists
Word Origin
C16: from Late Latin tortūra a twisting, from torquēre to twist
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 tortured



early 15c., "contortion, twisting, distortion," from Old French torture "infliction of great pain, great pain, agony," and directly from Late Latin torture "a twisting, writhing, torture, torment," from stem of Latin torquere "to twist, turn, wind, wring, distort" (see thwart).


1580s, from torture (n.). Related: Tortured; torturing.



1580s, from torture (n.). Related: Tortured; torturing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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