dis·​tort di-ˈstȯrt How to pronounce distort (audio)
distorted; distorting; distorts

transitive verb

: to twist (see twist entry 1 sense 3b) out of the true meaning or proportion : to alter to give a false or unnatural picture or account
distorted the facts
: to twist out of a natural, normal, or original shape or condition
a face distorted by pain
also : to cause to be perceived unnaturally
the new lights distorted colors
The singer's voice was electronically distorted.
: pervert
distort justice

intransitive verb

: to become distorted
Heat caused the wax figures to distort.
also : to cause a twisting from the true, natural, or normal
distorter noun
Choose the Right Synonym for distort

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

Examples of distort in a Sentence

Her face was distorted by pain. The odd camera angle distorted her figure in the photograph. The sound of the guitar was distorted. Heat caused the plastic to distort. She felt he was distorting the facts. The story was distorted by the press. The loss of both her parents at an early age distorted her outlook on life. See More
Recent Examples on the Web Such language distorts a lot about California’s outlaw cannabis industry. Paige St. John, Los Angeles Times, 13 Nov. 2023 In addition to distorting spending priorities and imposing rigid work rules, public-sector unions have helped vault ideologically extreme Democrats into high office, including House members Ilhan Omar and Jamaal Bowman and Chicago mayor Brandon Johnson. Heather Wilhelm, National Review, 9 Nov. 2023 How does looking at each other through these layers of stereotyping and misunderstanding distort our perception of the world? New York Times, 26 Oct. 2023 But critics insist that Blum and others driving similar challenges have distorted the law’s intent, wielding it as a cudgel against fair opportunity for racial minorities, especially Black people. Julian Mark, Washington Post, 6 Nov. 2023 The San Diego Police Officers Association waged an ugly mail primary campaign against Montgomery Steppe, attempting to depict her as soft on crime and distorting her record. Michael Smolens, San Diego Union-Tribune, 3 Nov. 2023 Or maybe the devil, perverting and distorting the work of God, had hidden himself away in the Americas to forge a deranged parody of the Christian faith. Sam Kriss, Harper's Magazine, 16 Oct. 2023 Not only that, there’s evidence that the student-loan-repayment moratorium hurt borrowers by distorting their impression of their own financial obligations, leading them to take on even more consumer debt. Noah Rothman, National Review, 9 Oct. 2023 Sometimes the screen will go black or the audio will be distorted. Josh Ocampo, New York Times, 29 Oct. 2023 See More

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

Word History


Latin distortus, past participle of distorquēre, from dis- + torquēre to twist — more at torture entry 1

First Known Use

1567, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of distort was in 1567

Dictionary Entries Near distort

Cite this Entry

“Distort.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/distort. Accessed 29 Nov. 2023.

Kids Definition


dis·​tort dis-ˈtȯ(ə)rt How to pronounce distort (audio)
: to tell in a way that is misleading : misrepresent
distorted the facts
: to twist out of a natural, normal, or original shape or condition
distorter noun

from Latin distortus, past participle of distorquēre "to distort, twist out of proper meaning," from dis- "reverse, apart" and torquēre "to twist" — related to extort, retort, torture

More from Merriam-Webster on distort

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