[ tawr-choo-uhs ]
/ ˈtɔr tʃu əs /


full of twists, turns, or bends; twisting, winding, or crooked: a tortuous path.
not direct or straightforward, as in procedure or speech; intricate; circuitous: tortuous negotiations lasting for months.
deceitfully indirect or morally crooked, as proceedings, methods, or policy; devious.

Nearby words

  1. tortola,
  2. tortoni,
  3. tortricid,
  4. tortuga,
  5. tortuosity,
  6. tortuously,
  7. torture,
  8. torture porn,
  9. torturer,
  10. torturous

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 forms
Can be confusedtortuous torturous (see usage note at torturous)

Usage note Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for tortuous

British Dictionary definitions for tortuous


/ (ˈtɔːtjʊəs) /


twisted or windinga tortuous road
devious or cunninga tortuous mind
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).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Medicine definitions for tortuous


[ tôrchōō-əs ]


Having many turns; winding or twisting.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.