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  1. the act of inflicting excruciating pain, as punishment or revenge, as a means of getting a confession or information, or for sheer cruelty.
  2. a method of inflicting such pain.
  3. Often tortures. the pain or suffering caused or undergone.
  4. extreme anguish of body or mind; agony.
  5. a cause of severe pain or anguish.
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verb (used with object), tor·tured, tor·tur·ing.
  1. to subject to torture.
  2. to afflict with severe pain of body or mind: My back is torturing me.
  3. to force or extort by torture: We'll torture the truth from his lips!
  4. to twist, force, or bring into some unnatural position or form: trees tortured by storms.
  5. to distort or pervert (language, meaning, etc.).
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Origin of torture

First recorded in 1530–40, torture is from the Late Latin word tortūra a twisting, torment, torture. See tort, -ure
Related formstor·tur·a·ble, adjectivetor·tured·ly, adverbtor·tur·er, nountor·ture·some, adjectivetor·tur·ing·ly, adverbo·ver·tor·ture, verb (used with object), o·ver·tor·tured, o·ver·tor·tur·ing.pre·tor·ture, noun, verb (used with object), pre·tor·tured, pre·tor·tur·ing.self-tor·ture, nounself-tor·tured, adjectiveself-tor·tur·ing, adjectiveun·tor·tured, adjective

Synonyms for torture

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

Related Words for tortured

annoy, disturb, injure, beat, wound, abuse, torment, persecute, mistreat, maim, mutilate, oppress, crucify, smite, pain, distress, afflict, grill, agonize, wring

Examples from the Web for tortured

Historical Examples of tortured

  • Tortured by the world and the world's law, yet Heaven's peace had settled on her.

    A Son of Hagar

    Sir Hall Caine

  • Tortured by his inward agitation, he rose and began to pace the room.

    The Child of Pleasure

    Gabriele D'Annunzio

  • Tortured by these imaginings, I rose up from the pavement and stood erect.


    Marie Corelli

  • Tortured, humiliated, helpless, he saw the lash that cut him fall also upon her.

    The Business of Life

    Robert W. Chambers

  • Tortured you may be to the verge of the grave, but never into it.

    Mabel's Mistake

    Ann S. Stephens

British Dictionary definitions for tortured


verb (tr)
  1. to cause extreme physical pain to, esp in order to extract information, break resistance, etcto torture prisoners
  2. to give mental anguish to
  3. to twist into a grotesque form
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  1. physical or mental anguish
  2. the practice of torturing a person
  3. a cause of mental agony or worry
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Derived Formstortured, adjectivetorturedly, adverbtorturer, nountorturesome or torturous, adjectivetorturing, adjectivetorturingly, adverbtorturously, adverb

Word Origin for torture

C16: from Late Latin tortūra a twisting, from torquēre to twist


The adjective torturous is sometimes confused with tortuous. One speaks of a torturous experience, i.e. one that involves pain or suffering, but of a tortuous road, i.e. one that winds or twists
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 tortured



early 15c., "contortion, twisting, distortion," from Old French torture "infliction of great pain, great pain, agony," and directly from Late Latin torture "a twisting, writhing, torture, torment," from stem of Latin torquere "to twist, turn, wind, wring, distort" (see thwart).

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1580s, from torture (n.). Related: Tortured; torturing.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper