Quantcast
Merriam-Webster Logo
  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
  • Scrabble
  • Spanish Central
  • Learner's Dictionary

tortuous

play
adjective tor·tu·ous \ˈtȯrch-wəs, ˈtȯr-chə-\

Simple Definition of tortuous

  • : having many twists and turns

  • : complicated, long, and confusing

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of tortuous

  1. 1 :  marked by repeated twists, bends, or turns :  winding <a tortuous path>

  2. 2a :  marked by devious or indirect tactics :  crooked, tricky <a tortuous conspiracy>b :  circuitous, involved <the tortuous jargon of legal forms>

tortuously

adverb

tortuousness

noun

Examples of tortuous in a sentence

  1. a tortuous path up the mountain

  2. <a tortuous mountain road marked by numerous hairpin turns>



Did You Know?

Be careful not to confuse tortuous with torturous. These two words are relatives-both ultimately come from the Latin verb torquere, which means "to twist," "to wind," or "to wrench"-but tortuous means "winding" or "crooked," whereas torturous means "painfully unpleasant." Something tortuous (such as a twisting mountain road) might also be torturous (if, for example, you have to ride up that road on a bicycle), but that doesn't make these words synonyms. The twists and turns that mark a tortuous thing can be literal ("a tortuous path" or "a tortuous river") or figurative ("a tortuous argument" or "a tortuous explanation"), but you should consider choosing a different descriptive term if no implication of winding or crookedness is present.

Origin and Etymology of tortuous

Middle English, from Middle French tortueux, from Latin tortuosus, from tortus twist, from torquēre to twist


First Known Use: 15th century


TORTUOUS Defined for Kids

tortuous

play
adjective tor·tu·ous \ˈtȯr-chə-wəs\

Definition of tortuous for Students

  1. :  having many twists and turns <a tortuous path>




Medical Dictionary

tortuous

play
adjective tor·tu·ous \ˈtȯrch-(ə-)wəs\

Medical Definition of tortuous

  1. :  marked by repeated twists, bends, or turns <a tortuous blood vessel>

tortuosity

\ˈtȯr-chə-ˈwäs-ət-ē\play noun plural

tortuosities

torturously

adverb




Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up tortuous? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

a representation of something

Get Word of the Day daily email!

WORD GAMES

Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!

confounded-person

Which is a synonym of indolent?

philistine frenetic melancholy lazy
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ