con·​vo·​lut·​ed ˈkän-və-ˌlü-təd How to pronounce convoluted (audio)
: having convolutions
a ram with convoluted horns
: involved, intricate
a convoluted argument

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The Origin of Convoluted Isn't

Convoluted comes from Latin convolvere, meaning "to roll up, coil, or twist." It is related to the verb convolute, meaning "to twist or coil." Once something is twisted it can be literally and figuratively difficult to unravel, and can be convoluted.

Examples of convoluted in a Sentence

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
They are pictures of convoluted tree trunks on an island of pink wave-smoothed stone … Margaret Atwood, Harper's, August 1990
… she has been fashioning sequences of plans too convoluted to materialize … Joseph Heller, God Knows, 1984
To therapists, stepfamilies may present convoluted psychological dilemmas … Letty Cottin Pogrebin, Family Politics, 1983
a convoluted explanation that left the listeners even more confused than they were before
Recent Examples on the Web The documents also show what students argue are convoluted attempts by graduate programs to address their concerns without actually raising their wages. Jonathan Wosen, STAT, 5 Sep. 2023 Superhero fatigue is real, and fans and critics have begun to comment on the notable dip in quality of these properties in the last several years, a problem compounded by the convoluted plots that depend on the audience watching an ever-growing number of movies and shows. Time, 24 Aug. 2023 The grisly horror franchise returns with this tenth entry, which, in keeping with the series' convoluted timeline shenanigans, takes place between the first and second films. Brendan Morrow, The Week, 22 Aug. 2023 So, brace yourselves and be ready to delve deeper into the convoluted world of Great Kills, where reality and fiction intertwine in the most bewitching manner! Jon Stojan, USA TODAY, 22 Aug. 2023 Also note that the harness straps have tandem tension—meaning that parents don’t have to fumble with a convoluted strap design to properly secure their baby in the car. Dorian Smith-Garcia, Parents, 18 Aug. 2023 The quest to describe our convoluted times ultimately leaves us with words that are bespoke but imprecise, which grab attention through novelty but have little to say in the long run. Lauren Michele Jackson, The New Yorker, 17 Aug. 2023 The former vice president is a MAGA villain for doing his constitutional duty on January 6, so Ramaswamy has to find a way to wiggle out of endorsing his conduct on that day, no matter how convoluted or inane. Rich Lowry, National Review, 28 Aug. 2023 But how the water actually gets to people is a convoluted and deeply politicized process. Shawn Hubler, New York Times, 20 Aug. 2023 See More

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

Word History


from past participle of convolute

First Known Use

1766, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of convoluted was in 1766


Dictionary Entries Near convoluted

Cite this Entry

“Convoluted.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 Sep. 2023.

Kids Definition


con·​vo·​lut·​ed ˈkän-və-ˌlüt-əd How to pronounce convoluted (audio)
: folded or curved in twisted windings
especially : having convolutions
: complicated in form : intricate
convoluted phrasing

Medical Definition


con·​vo·​lut·​ed -ˌlü-təd How to pronounce convoluted (audio)
: folded in curved or tortuous windings
specifically : having convolutions
the highly convoluted human cerebral cortex

More from Merriam-Webster on convoluted

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