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See more synonyms for tortuous on Thesaurus.com
  1. full of twists, turns, or bends; twisting, winding, or crooked: a tortuous path.
  2. not direct or straightforward, as in procedure or speech; intricate; circuitous: tortuous negotiations lasting for months.
  3. deceitfully indirect or morally crooked, as proceedings, methods, or policy; devious.
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Origin of tortuous

1350–1400; Middle English < Latin tortuōsus, equivalent to tortu(s) a twisting (tor(quēre) to twist, bend + -tus suffix of v. action) + -ōsus -ous
Related formstor·tu·ous·ly, adverbtor·tu·ous·ness, nounnon·tor·tu·ous, adjectivenon·tor·tu·ous·ly, adverbun·tor·tu·ous, adjectiveun·tor·tu·ous·ly, adverbun·tor·tu·ous·ness, noun
Can be confusedtortuous torturous (see usage note at torturous)

Synonyms for tortuous

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Usage note

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

Examples from the Web for tortuous

Contemporary Examples of tortuous

Historical Examples of tortuous

British Dictionary definitions for tortuous


  1. twisted or windinga tortuous road
  2. devious or cunninga tortuous mind
  3. intricate
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Derived Formstortuously, adverbtortuousness, noun
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 tortuous


late 14c., from Anglo-French tortuous (12c.), from Latin tortuosus "full of twists, winding," from tortus "a twisting, winding," from stem of torquere "to twist, wring, distort" (see thwart).

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

tortuous in Medicine


  1. Having many turns; winding or twisting.
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The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.