con·​tor·​tion·​ist kən-ˈtȯr-sh(ə-)nist How to pronounce contortionist (audio)
: one who contorts
specifically : an acrobat able to twist the body into unusual postures
contortionistic adjective

Examples of contortionist in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web And the bubbly contortionist, 42, might have set a trend with those one-of-a-kind movements. Stephanie Sengwe, Peoplemag, 30 Oct. 2023 At the end of the performance, the dance troupe removed their blindfolds, revealing the contortionists’ unthreatening appearance. USA TODAY, 19 July 2023 Here are five things to do for the weekend of Aug. 18-20: Paranormal Cirque III This one-of-a-kind production put on by Cirque Italia takes place under a big-top tent and takes its audience on a sensual journey with acrobatics of the air, illusionists, mysterious creatures, contortionists and more. Brendel Hightower, Detroit Free Press, 18 Aug. 2023 Performers include aerial acrobats, a contortionist, and a strongman. Maddie Browning,, 23 June 2023 The Fringe Stage hosts new acts like the watery antics of the Acrobuffos, contortionist and archer Sara Twister and the acrobatics of the Street Circus. José Sánchez Córdova, Dallas News, 22 June 2023 For Uranbileg Angarag, a Mongolian contortionist, rehearsing favorite moves from home — like putting her legs 180 degrees in front of her head while balancing on a cane in her mouth — has been difficult: The ceiling of her apartment in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia’s capital, gets in the way. New York Times, 9 May 2021 That person is facing away from the camera, but their hand is holding that Canadian flag in a way that would perplex even the most skilled circus contortionist. Matt Novak, Forbes, 27 Mar. 2023 The surprise return of Ariana the contortionist. Derek Lawrence,, 26 Feb. 2021 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'contortionist.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1844, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of contortionist was in 1844

Dictionary Entries Near contortionist

Cite this Entry

“Contortionist.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 29 Nov. 2023.

Kids Definition


con·​tor·​tion·​ist kən-ˈtȯr-sh(ə-)nəst How to pronounce contortionist (audio)
: an acrobat able to twist the body into unusual positions

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