[verb tawr-ment, tawr-ment; noun tawr-ment]
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verb (used with object)
  1. to afflict with great bodily or mental suffering; pain: to be tormented with violent headaches.
  2. to worry or annoy excessively: to torment one with questions.
  3. to throw into commotion; stir up; disturb.
  1. a state of great bodily or mental suffering; agony; misery.
  2. something that causes great bodily or mental pain or suffering.
  3. a source of much trouble, worry, or annoyance.
  4. an instrument of torture, as the rack or the thumbscrew.
  5. the infliction of torture by means of such an instrument or the torture so inflicted.

Origin of torment

1250–1300; (noun) Middle English < Old French < Latin tormentum rope, catapult, torture < *torkw-ment- (see torque, -ment); (v.) Middle English tormenten < Old French tormenter, derivative of torment (compare Late Latin tormentāre)
Related formstor·ment·ed·ly, adverbtor·ment·ing·ly, adverbtor·ment·ing·ness, nounun·tor·ment·ed, adjectiveun·tor·ment·ing, adjectiveun·tor·ment·ing·ly, adverb

Synonyms for torment

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1. harry, hector, vex, distress, agonize. T orment , rack , torture suggest causing great physical or mental pain, suffering, or harassment. T o torment is to afflict or harass as by incessant repetition of vexations or annoyances: to be tormented by doubts. T o rack is to affect with such pain as that suffered by one stretched on a rack; to concentrate with painful effort: to rack one's brains. T o torture is to afflict with acute and more or less protracted suffering: to torture one by keeping one in suspense. 2. plague, pester, tease, provoke, needle, trouble, fret. 4. torture, distress, anguish.

Antonyms for torment

1. please. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for tormenting

Contemporary Examples of tormenting

Historical Examples of tormenting

  • My dear Friend,—That tormenting creature, Reginald, is here.

    Lady Susan

    Jane Austen

  • I took revenge on you for recognizing me by tormenting you as far as I dared.

    It Happened in Egypt

    C. N. Williamson

  • I trust I am not superstitious, but the vision had remained with me in all its tormenting detail.

    Ruggles of Red Gap

    Harry Leon Wilson

  • Eugen, as if stung by some tormenting thought, sprung up and we left the wood.

    The First Violin

    Jessie Fothergill

  • Yet he lay there, wide-eyed, wondering, and tormenting himself.

    People of Position

    Stanley Portal Hyatt

British Dictionary definitions for tormenting


verb (tɔːˈmɛnt) (tr)
  1. to afflict with great pain, suffering, or anguish; torture
  2. to tease or pester in an annoying waystop tormenting the dog
noun (ˈtɔːmɛnt)
  1. physical or mental pain
  2. a source of pain, worry, annoyance, etc
  3. archaic an instrument of torture
  4. archaic the infliction of torture
Derived Formstormented, adjectivetormentedly, adverbtormenting, adjective, nountormentingly, adverb

Word Origin for torment

C13: from Old French, from Latin tormentum, from torquēre
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 tormenting



late 13c., "inflicting of torture," also "state of great suffering," from Old French tourment (11c.), from Latin tormentum "twisted sling, rack," related to torquere "to twist" (see thwart).



late 13c., from Old French tormenter (12c.), from Latin tormentare, from tormentum (see torment (n.)). Related: Tormented; tormenting.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper