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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
1530-40; < Late Latin 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 torturing
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • A pretty thing to 'ave my name in all the papers about 'ere as torturing a goose!

    The Giant's Robe F. Anstey
  • But they could not assuage one torturing pain, or prolong his life for a second!

  • It is terrible to think of the torturing thirst that had lasted for days.

    White Dandy; or, Master and I Velma Caldwell Melville
  • He wondered if this torturing end was a judgment sent upon him.

    The Dude Wrangler Caroline Lockhart
  • His voice, his hands, his whole body trembled as he pleaded for companionship, for protection from his torturing fancies.

    London's Heart B. L. (Benjamin Leopold) Farjeon
British Dictionary definitions for torturing


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 torturing



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.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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