[ tawr-choo-uhs ]
See synonyms for: tortuoustortuouslytortuousness on

  1. full of twists, turns, or bends; twisting, winding, or crooked: a tortuous path.

  2. not direct or straightforward, as in procedure or speech; circuitous: tortuous negotiations lasting for months.

  1. deceitfully indirect or morally crooked, as proceedings, methods, or policy; devious.

Origin of tortuous

First recorded in 1350–1400; Middle English, from Latin tortuōsus, equivalent to tortu(s) “a twisting” (torquēre “to twist, bend” + -tus suffix of verbal action) + -ōsus adjective suffix; see -ous

confusables note For tortuous

See torturous.

Other words for tortuous

Other words from tortuous

  • tor·tu·ous·ly, adverb
  • tor·tu·ous·ness, noun
  • non·tor·tu·ous, adjective
  • non·tor·tu·ous·ly, adverb
  • un·tor·tu·ous, adjective
  • un·tor·tu·ous·ly, adverb
  • un·tor·tu·ous·ness, noun

Words that may be confused with tortuous Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use tortuous in a sentence

  • Breathes there a man so tortuously afflicted with Strabismus that he doesn't see it?

  • Just then a dark lean man came tortuously along the garden path.

    Historical Miniatures | August Strindberg
  • Mrs. Martin had slowly and tortuously worked up to her climax, and she shot forth the last sentence with a jubilant ring.

    The Uncalled | Paul Laurence Dunbar
  • After a third defeat this thread seemed to guide me to daylight from a tortuously winding cavern.

    The Boss of Little Arcady | Harry Leon Wilson
  • You are no longer the slow, plodding, puny thing of clay, creeping tortuously upon the ground; you are a part of Nature!

    Three Men in a Boat | Jerome K. Jerome

British Dictionary definitions for tortuous


/ (ˈtɔːtjʊəs) /

  1. twisted or winding: a tortuous road

  2. devious or cunning: a tortuous mind

  1. intricate

Derived forms of tortuous

  • tortuously, adverb
  • tortuousness, 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