[ tawr-cher ]
See synonyms for: torturetorturedtorturingtorturesome on

  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.

  1. Often tortures. the pain or suffering caused or undergone.

  2. extreme anguish of body or mind; agony.

  3. a cause of severe pain or anguish.

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.

  1. to force or extort by torture: We'll torture the truth from his lips!

  2. to twist, force, or bring into some unnatural position or form: trees tortured by storms.

  3. to distort or pervert (language, meaning, etc.).

Origin of torture

First recorded in 1530–40, torture is from the Late Latin word tortūra a twisting, torment, torture. See tort, -ure

synonym study For torture

6. See torment.

Other words from torture

  • tor·tur·a·ble, adjective
  • tor·tured·ly, adverb
  • tor·tur·er, noun
  • tor·ture·some, adjective
  • tor·tur·ing·ly, adverb
  • o·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-torture, noun
  • self-tortured, adjective
  • self-tor·tur·ing, adjective
  • un·tor·tured, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use torture in a sentence

  • In a voice thick with the torturing rage of impotence he gave the order upon which the grim Parisian insisted.

    St. Martin's Summer | Rafael Sabatini
  • I would leave no room for the torturing thought that had I been less precipitate she would have been more kindly.

    A Virginia Scout | Hugh Pendexter
  • Twice she prepared to write to him, and end a suspense torturing to both,—and twice dashed down the pen in shame and pride.

    Alone | Marion Harland
  • He nearly betrayed himself once by shouting from his window at a boy who was torturing a grasshopper.

    The Life of Mazzini | Bolton King
  • He did not believe he would sleep a wink through the night, for never were his emotions wrought to a more keenly torturing point.

    Two Boys in Wyoming | Edward S. Ellis

British Dictionary definitions for torture


/ (ˈtɔːtʃə) /

  1. to cause extreme physical pain to, esp in order to extract information, break resistance, etc: to torture prisoners

  2. to give mental anguish to

  1. to twist into a grotesque form

  1. physical or mental anguish

  2. the practice of torturing a person

  1. a cause of mental agony or worry

Origin of torture

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

usage For torture

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

Derived forms of torture

  • tortured, adjective
  • torturedly, adverb
  • torturer, noun
  • torturesome or torturous, adjective
  • torturing, adjective
  • torturingly, adverb
  • torturously, adverb

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