verb con·tort \ kən-ˈtȯrt \
|Updated on: 11 Jul 2018

Definition of contort

contorted; contorting; contorts
: to twist in a violent manner
  • features contorted with fury
: to twist into or as if into a strained shape or expression
  • His face contorted in a grimace of pain.


play \kən-ˈtȯr-shən\ noun


play \kən-ˈtȯr-tiv\ adjective

Examples of contort in a Sentence

  1. His body contorted with pain.

  2. The boy contorted his body to squeeze through the gate.

  3. Her face was contorted with rage.

Recent Examples of contort from the Web

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.

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.

Origin and Etymology of contort

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

contort Synonyms

Synonym Discussion of 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

CONTORT Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of contort for English Language Learners

  • : to twist into an unusual appearance or shape

CONTORT Defined for Kids


verb con·tort \ kən-ˈtȯrt \

Definition of contort for Students

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

Word Root of contort

The Latin word torquēre, meaning “to twist,” and its form tortus give us the root tort. Words from the Latin torquēre have something to do with twisting. A retort, or angry reply to another's words, twists those words back at the person. To contort is to twist the body in unusual ways. To distort is to twist something, such as the truth, so much that it appears to be something else.

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