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

To the left, her friend in the blue bikini is contorting her body in an effort to tie up her top without exposing herself. 1843, "The masochistic appeal of the British seaside," 25 June 2019 These standards — and postures many American males contort themselves to — are not without consequence. Henry Rollins,, "Men are expected to be ‘strong silent types’ — and it’s breaking them, says Henry Rollins," 20 June 2019 While in flight, the female Aeshna juncea contorts so that her genitals, which are near the end of her body, connect with the male’s genitals, which are near his thorax. Patricia Edmonds, National Geographic, "Why this insect fakes death to avoid sex," 17 June 2019 Or, to contort those words ever so slightly for more modern moviegoing sensibilities, the story is the thing. Mike Scott,, "‘All Is True’ movie review: The year’s first real Oscar threat?," 7 June 2019 James Comey twisted the facts, contorted the law to clear her. Fox News, "Mueller investigation criticized as being 'one-sided'," 24 Aug. 2018 The White House is contorting itself in bizarre ways to avoid acting on climate change The National Climate Assessment joins a long history of climate science at the White House. Umair Irfan, Vox, "The National Climate Assessment shows that the costs of doing nothing on climate change are immense.," 26 Nov. 2018 The movie focuses on an 11-year-old boy and his unlikely correspondence with a closeted actor that is contorted into scandal. Dan Bilefsky, New York Times, "He Wanted to Escape His Childhood. Now, It Fuels His Art.," 27 Apr. 2018 Kyoto University teamed up with the University of Electro-Communications in Japan to build a robot snake that can contort its body repeatedly in order to reach the top of a ladder. Shannon Liao, The Verge, "A new snakebot proves that climbing ladders won’t save you from killer robots," 15 Oct. 2018

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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Statistics for contort

Last Updated

11 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for contort

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

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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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More from Merriam-Webster on contort

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with contort

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for contort

Spanish Central: Translation of contort

Nglish: Translation of contort for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of contort for Arabic Speakers

Comments on contort

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