[kuh n-tawr-shuh-nist]


a person who performs gymnastic feats involving contorted postures.
a person who practices contortion: a verbal contortionist.


Origin of contortionist

First recorded in 1855–60; contortion + -ist
Related formscon·tor·tion·is·tic, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for contortionist

Contemporary Examples of contortionist

  • Inside the “Love” window Elphresh the contortionist elf dances in from of a gold boom-box and 9-foot chrome mushrooms.

    The Daily Beast logo
    The Incredible Art of Christmas Windows

    Barbara Ragghianti

    November 24, 2014

Historical Examples of contortionist

  • For there, standing in the center of the room was the Contortionist, "limbering up."

    Continuous Vaudeville

    Will M. Cressy

  • It is not necessary to be a contortionist, nor will it answer to be an ossified freak.

    Riding and Driving

    Edward L. Anderson

  • In addition to my training as contortionist I was being trained as gymnast.

    The Autobiography of a Clown

    Isaac Frederick Marcosson

  • This stranger was a contortionist, there could be no question about that now.

    White Fire

    Roy J. Snell

  • He hoped that, by this time, they had succeeded in shaking the contortionist off their trail.

    White Fire

    Roy J. Snell

British Dictionary definitions for contortionist



a performer who contorts his body for the entertainment of others
a person who twists or warps meaning or thoughtsa verbal contortionist
Derived Formscontortionistic, 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

Word Origin and History for contortionist

1841, from contortion + -ist.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper