QUIZ YOURSELF ON "WAS" VS. "WERE"!
Origin of torturous
words often confused with torturous
OTHER WORDS FROM torturoustor·tur·ous·ly, adverb
WORDS THAT MAY BE CONFUSED WITH torturoustortuous, torturous (see confusables note at the current entry)
Words nearby torturous
TORTUROUS VS. TORTUOUS
What’s the difference between torturous and tortuous?
Torturous is used to describe things that are painful or that cause suffering, as if they were a form of torture. Tortuous means winding or full of twists and turns, as in a tortuous path, but it can also be used in a more figurative way to mean indirect, convoluted, or even devious.
Both words are adjectives, and their spellings are separated by only one letter—making their pronunciations very similar. Making things even more confusing is that there are some situations in which it could make sense to use either word. For example, a piece of writing that’s extremely hard to follow because of how unorganized it is could be described as both tortuous (because it’s so meandering) and torturous (because it’s like torture to read it).
The best way to remember the difference is that torturous has a second r in it, just like its base word, torture. If you want to use the word tortuous in a piece of writing and you’re worried it might be confusing, you might be right! Luckily, there are plenty of alternative words that can be used in the same way, depending on what you mean, such as winding, meandering, circuitous, indirect, and convoluted.
Here’s an example of torturous and tortuous used correctly in the same sentence.
Example: Trying to follow the tortuous arguments in the meandering paper was torturous.
Want to learn more? Read the full breakdown of the difference between torturous and tortuous.
Quiz yourself on torturous vs. tortuous!
Should torturous or tortuous be used in the following sentence?
The _____ switchback trail snaked up and down the mountainside.
Example sentences from the Web for torturous
The Oscar-nominated 2019 Netflix film can be torturous to watch, as Scarlett Johansson and Adam Driver’s relationship unravels, but you can’t look away.
Martinez shared in his Instagram stories that while he’d hoped Rapoport’s resignation would lead to meaningful change, the five weeks of contract negotiations were “torturous and dehumanizing,” and ultimately did not result in a fair pay rate.Bon Appétit Announces Dawn Davis, Publishing Heavyweight, as New Editor-in-Chief|Elazar Sontag|August 27, 2020|Eater
I used to find New York City summer running beyond torturous.
Rick better get used to torturous trials because they are never going away.The Walking Dead’s Luke Skywalker: Rick Grimes Is the Perfect Modern-Day Mythical Hero|Regina Lizik|October 28, 2014|DAILY BEAST
Virginians worried about their scandal-plagued governor, torturous traffic, and government furloughs can breathe a little easier.Dominion Completes Conversion of Coal Plant to Biomass in Virginia|William O’Connor|July 19, 2013|DAILY BEAST
The results are tedious rather than amusing, and the whole thing feels dated and torturous.Fall-Winter TV Preview: Snap Judgments of 2013–14’s New Shows|Jace Lacob, Kevin Fallon|July 16, 2013|DAILY BEAST
A 16th-century iron corset looks precisely as frightening and torturous as it sounds.In Paris, a Historical Look at Lingerie at Musée des Arts Décoratifs|Sarah Moroz|July 5, 2013|DAILY BEAST
Torturous force feedings and hunger strikes at Guantánamo Bay are a sign of just how desperate the men there are.
He crouched, nerves and muscles tense, controled in spite of the torturous cloud of scalding vapor that pressed close to him.
When all was in readiness a Negro sergeant in the British service was seized, and put to a torturous death.History of the Negro Race in America From 1619 to 1880. Vol 1|George W. Williams
In an iron cage called the Cage of St. Michel, a torturous contrivance, state prisoners used to be confined.Zigzag Journeys in Europe|Hezekiah Butterworth
Owing to the torturous mountain roads we were close to this building before observing it.History of the Twelfth West Virginia Volunteer Infantry|William Hewitt
What happened after that, though it lasted seven long and torturous years, is fairly familiar to the American people.Labor's Martyrs|Vito Marcantonio