adjective an·frac·tu·ous \an-ˈfrak-chə-wəs, -shə-; -chü-əs, -shü-\

Definition of anfractuous

  1. :  full of windings and intricate turnings :  tortuous

anfractuous was our Word of the Day on 04/07/2015. Hear the podcast!

Did You Know?

Plots and paths can be anfractuous. They twist and turn but do not break. Never mind that our English word comes from Latin anfractus (same meaning as anfractuous), which in turn comes from the Latin verb frangere, meaning "to break." (Frangere is also the source of fracture, fraction, fragment, and frail.) The prefix an- here means "around." At first, anfractuous was all about ears and the auditory canal's anfractuosity, that is, its being curved rather than straight. Now anfractuous has been around some 400 years, without a break, giving it plenty of time to wind its way into other applications; e.g., there can be an anfractuous thought process or an anfractuous shoreline.

Origin and Etymology of anfractuous

French anfractueux, from Late Latin anfractuosus, from Latin anfractus coil, bend, from an- (from ambi- around) + -fractus, from frangere to break — more at ambi-, break

First Known Use: 1619

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to cast off or become cast off

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