con·​tort | \ kən-ˈtȯrt How to pronounce contort (audio) \
contorted; contorting; contorts

Definition of contort

transitive verb

: to twist in a violent manner features contorted with fury

intransitive verb

: to twist into or as if into a strained shape or expression His face contorted in a grimace of pain.

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Other Words from contort

contortion \ kən-​ˈtȯr-​shən How to pronounce contort (audio) \ noun
contortive \ kən-​ˈtȯr-​tiv How to pronounce contort (audio) \ adjective

Choose the Right Synonym for contort

deform, distort, contort, warp means to mar or spoil by or as if by twisting. deform may imply a change of shape through stress, injury, or accident of growth. a face deformed by hatred distort and contort both imply a wrenching from the natural or normal, but contort suggests a more involved twisting and a more grotesque and painful result. the odd camera angle distorts the figure disease had contorted her body warp indicates an uneven shrinking that bends or twists out of a flat plane. warped floorboards

Did You Know?

Circus contortionists are known for twisting their bodies into pretzels; such contortions tend to be easier for females than for males, and much easier for the young than for the old. When trying to say something uncomfortable or dishonest, people often go through verbal contortions. But when someone else "twists" something you said or did, we usually say instead that they've distorted it.

Examples of contort in a Sentence

His body contorted with pain. The boy contorted his body to squeeze through the gate. Her face was contorted with rage.
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Recent Examples on the Web Now, instead of trying to contort her personality to make others like her, Anude has a new perspective. Angela Roberts,, "‘Hold my head high’: Black teens in Carroll reflect on growing up in one of Maryland’s whitest counties," 23 Dec. 2020 Fear of setting off the systems’ alarms has led students to contort themselves in unsettling ways. Washington Post, "Cheating-detection companies made millions during the pandemic. Now students are fighting back.," 12 Nov. 2020 Commentators, journalists, and political staffers will contort themselves to find trends and ascribe meaning to the results in the hours, days, and weeks following the US presidential election. David Yanofsky, Quartz, "The ways to understand US election results," 3 Nov. 2020 But if five or more justices manage to contort themselves into seeing actual injuries to the plaintiffs, the next question will be whether the mandate to buy insurance is constitutional. Jon Healey, Star Tribune, "Why Barrett's rise may not be fatal to Obamacare," 27 Oct. 2020 The pass was high and toward the boundary, allowing the 6-foot-4 Williams to leap and contort his body and haul in a pass between leaping Saints defenders. Luke Johnson,, "Saints impressed with Chargers 'good young talent' in rookie quarterback Justin Herbert.," 12 Oct. 2020 Months of coronavirus isolation can contort your body, weaken your heart and impair the brain function. CNN, "Start your week smart: French Open, 'SNL,' presidential debate, Covid 19, wildfires," 27 Sep. 2020 That means the robot can pick up its legs to walk, bend its knees, turn its head, and contort its fingers to mime hand signals. Courtney Linder, Popular Mechanics, "Japan's 60-Foot-Tall Gundam Robot Is Now Walking and Wreaking Havoc," 22 Sep. 2020 Moore caught Russell Wilson’s 38-yard throw along the sideline near the pylon at the goal line and managed to contort his lower body and legs to keep his feet inbounds. oregonlive, "Seattle Seahawks win a nail-biter against the New England Patriots: 10 studs and duds," 21 Sep. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'contort.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of contort

15th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense

History and Etymology for contort

Middle English, from Latin contortus, past participle of contorquēre, from com- + torquēre to twist — more at torture entry 1

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Time Traveler for contort

Time Traveler

The first known use of contort was in the 15th century

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Statistics for contort

Last Updated

8 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Contort.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 2 Mar. 2021.

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More Definitions for contort



English Language Learners Definition of contort

: to twist into an unusual appearance or shape


con·​tort | \ kən-ˈtȯrt How to pronounce contort (audio) \
contorted; contorting

Kids Definition of contort

: to give an unusual appearance or unnatural shape to by twisting His face contorted with anger.

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Comments on contort

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