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

And even though the stripes in the middle had likely been contorted by a ridge segment that rotated over time, the maps clearly revealed a giant zebra crossing of magnetic stripes running across the massif. Robin George Andrews, National Geographic, "This is now the world's largest volcano, geologists say," 15 July 2019 The lasting image of the two contorting their bodies before a national audience sent sales skyrocketing, and by 1967, Milton Bradley had moved over 3 million copies. Michael Waters, Smithsonian, "When Twister Was Too Risqué For America," 10 July 2019 Leaders like Pelosi contort themselves to appear moderate and eager for compromise. Alex Shephard, The New Republic, "Nancy Pelosi Has Power—She Just Doesn’t Want to Use It," 11 July 2019 Another is his relentless, body-contorting defense. Howard Fendrich,, "For Novak Djokovic, what a difference a year makes," 30 June 2019 Meryl Streep contorts her lips inward, focusing all of her tension in their corners. Chloe Foussianes, Town & Country, "In Big Little Lies, Meryl Streep Gives Us the Villain Next Door," 30 June 2019 The contest drew a large crowd at the gazebo as many people’s faces contorted while watching the contestants compete to eat taquitos made with Carolina Reaper peppers the fastest. Karie Angell Luc,, "Thousands celebrate the heat, spicy foods during Inferno Fest in Highwood," 27 June 2019 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

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

8 Aug 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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