[tawr-cher-uh s]


pertaining to, involving, or causing torture or suffering.

Origin of torturous

1490–1500; < Anglo-French; Old French tortureus. See torture, -ous
Related formstor·tur·ous·ly, adverb
Can be confusedtortuous torturous (see usage note at the current entry)

Usage note

Torturous refers specifically to what involves or causes pain or suffering: prisoners working in the torturous heat; torturous memories of past injustice. Some speakers and writers use torturous for tortuous , especially in the senses “twisting, winding” and “convoluted”: a torturous road; torturous descriptions. Others, however, keep the two adjectives (and their corresponding adverbs) separate in all senses: a tortuous (twisting) road; tortuous (convoluted) descriptions; torturous (painful) treatments. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for torturous

Contemporary Examples of torturous

Historical Examples of torturous

  • He knew where the dock was, but the way thither was difficult and torturous.

    The Sea and the Jungle

    H. M. Tomlinson

  • It was an endless night, torturous with cold and uncertainty.

    The Short Cut

    Jackson Gregory

  • Carrying a heavy pack down such a grade exerted a torturous strain upon the backs of the legs.

    Space Prison

    Tom Godwin

  • She was able to right herself to her knees, and after a torturous five minutes reached the fireplace.

  • Heaven help us, I thought, if we had to lie on that torturous stuff for fifteen hours!

    Wings of the Wind

    Credo Harris

Word Origin and History for torturous

late 15c., from Anglo-French torturous, from Old French tortureus, from Latin tortura (see torture).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper