adjective con·vo·lut·ed \ˈkän-və-ˌlü-təd\

Definition of convoluted

  1. 1 :  having convolutions a ram with convoluted horns

  2. 2 :  involved, intricate a convoluted argument

convoluted was our Word of the Day on 07/19/2011. Hear the podcast!

Examples of convoluted in a sentence

  1. At base stands a profound respect for the integrity of history and the complex and convoluted relationship between present and the past. —Ira Berlin, New York Times Book Review, 9 Sept. 2001

  2. They are pictures of convoluted tree trunks on an island of pink wave-smoothed stone … —Margaret Atwood, Harper's, August 1990

  3. … she has been fashioning sequences of plans too convoluted to materialize … —Joseph Heller, God Knows, 1984

  4. To therapists, stepfamilies may present convoluted psychological dilemmas … —Letty Cottin Pogrebin, Family Politics, 1983

  5. a convoluted explanation that left the listeners even more confused than they were before

Did You Know?

Convoluted and convolution (a noun referring to a folded, winding shape, such as one of the ridges of the brain) are from Latin volvere, meaning "to roll." Volvere has given English many words, but one of the following is NOT from volvere. Can you pick it out?

vault voluminous volley voluble devolve
The path from vault to volvere leads (rather convolutedly) through Middle English, Anglo-French, and Vulgar Latin to Latin volutus, past participle of volvere. Voluble meant "rolling easily" before it meant "speaking readily," and voluminous first meant "consisting of many folds." Devolve (to pass down, as in the stewardship devolved upon the son) once meant literally to roll down. The word that doesn’t belong is volley. It’s from Latin volare, meaning "to fly."

Origin and Etymology of convoluted

see convolute

First Known Use: 1766

CONVOLUTED Defined for English Language Learners


adjective con·vo·lut·ed \ˈkän-və-ˌlü-təd\

Definition of convoluted for English Language Learners

  • : very complicated and difficult to understand

  • : having many twists and curves

Medical Dictionary


adjective con·vo·lut·ed \-ˌlü-təd\

Medical Definition of convoluted

  1. :  folded in curved or tortuous windings; specifically :  having convolutions the highly convoluted human cerebral cortex

Seen and Heard

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capable of being understood in two ways

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