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 That vertical explosion leads into his Gumby-like ability to contort his body and bend around the edge to corner, flatten and attack the pocket. John Owning, Dallas News, "Film room: 3 draft prospects the Cowboys should consider in the middle rounds, including a high-upside pass rusher," 10 Apr. 2020 Winston elevated and contorted his body just enough to toss the ball high off the glass. Chris Solari, Detroit Free Press, "Xavier Tillman's put-back slam after missed layups a revival for Michigan State basketball," 12 Feb. 2020 In those pictures, the pianist’s shoulders are contorted, hunched in effort, art sublimating pain. Brendan Fitzgerald, Longreads, "“I miss my body when it was ferocious” The Transfiguration of Paul Curreri," 14 Mar. 2020 Their mother sat on the floor in a cramped room, surrounded by women, her face contorted by grief. Niha Masih, Washington Post, "What Delhi’s worst communal violence in decades means for Modi’s India," 2 Mar. 2020 The cameras cut to New Zealand head coach Steve Hansen, whose face contorted with a frustrated grimace that summed up the All Blacks' night so far. Matias Grez, CNN, "England stuns New Zealand to book its place in the Rugby World Cup final," 26 Oct. 2019 Playing an anxiety-ridden teenager in Dear Evan Hansen, Platt, 25, won a Tony for performing anthem after anthem each night, often while crying, spitting, contorting his body -- or some combination of all three. Rebecca Milzoff, Billboard, "Can Atlantic Records Make Broadway Vet Ben Platt a Pop Star?," 29 Mar. 2019 The waves are likely a product of mesospheric bores, which are typically the result of airflow that gets stuck and contorted in between the layers of the Earth's atmosphere. Daisy Hernandez, Popular Mechanics, "How Citizen Scientists Helped Discover a New Aurora," 3 Feb. 2020 Her face contorts in pain as the chopstick continues its descent. Nina Li Coomes, The Atlantic, "The Uneven Historical Horror of The Terror: Infamy," 2 Sep. 2019

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

17 Apr 2020

Cite this Entry

“Contort.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 May. 2020.

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More Definitions for contort


How to pronounce contort (audio)

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

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for contort

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with contort

Spanish Central: Translation of contort

Nglish: Translation of contort for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of contort for Arabic Speakers

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