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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

Related Words for tortuously

carefully, slowly, painstakingly, tortuously

Examples from the Web for tortuously

Historical Examples of tortuously

  • Cautiously, tortuously, they made their way ahead for what seemed like ages, pausing frequently to listen.

    The Radio Boys on the Mexican Border

    Gerald Breckenridge

  • They crept on tortuously in serpentine curves through the long, dry grasses.

    Hilda Wade

    Grant Allen

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

  • On the testimony of his own letters it is clear he did not mind how tortuously and perfidiously he worked.

    Sir Walter Ralegh

    William Stebbing

  • A planet is said to ascend directly, when in a direct sign; but tortuously, when in a tortuous sign.

British Dictionary definitions for tortuously


  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 tortuously



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

tortuously 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.