[kuh n-tawrt]

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 Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for contort

writhe, deform, convolute, torture, curve, warp, twist, wrench, knot, wind, bend, gnarl, misshape

Examples from the Web for contort

Contemporary Examples of contort

Historical Examples of contort

  • 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

British Dictionary definitions for contort



to twist or bend severely out of place or shape, esp in a strained manner
Derived Formscontortive, adjective

Word Origin for contort

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

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