verb dis·tort \ di-ˈstȯrt \
|Updated on: 31 Jul 2018

Definition of distort

1 : to twist (see 1twist 3b) out of the true meaning or proportion : to alter to give a false or unnatural picture or account
  • distorted the facts
2 : 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.
3 : pervert
  • distort justice
: to become distorted
  • Heat caused the wax figures to distort.
; also : to cause a twisting from the true, natural, or normal



Examples of distort in a Sentence

  1. Her face was distorted by pain.

  2. The odd camera angle distorted her figure in the photograph.

  3. The sound of the guitar was distorted.

  4. Heat caused the plastic to distort.

  5. She felt he was distorting the facts.

  6. The story was distorted by the press.

  7. The loss of both her parents at an early age distorted her outlook on life.

Recent Examples of distort from the Web

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'distort.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Origin and Etymology of distort

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

Synonym Discussion of 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

DISTORT Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of distort for English Language Learners

  • : to change the natural, normal, or original shape, appearance, or sound of (something) in a way that is usually not attractive or pleasing

  • : to change (something) so that it is no longer true or accurate

DISTORT Defined for Kids


verb dis·tort \ di-ˈstȯrt \

Definition of distort for Students

distorted; distorting
1 : to twist out of shape
2 : to change so as to make untrue or inaccurate
  • Reports distorted the facts.

Word Root of distort

The Latin word torquēre, meaning “to twist,” and its form tortus give us the root tort. Words from the Latin torquēre have something to do with twisting. A retort, or angry reply to another's words, twists those words back at the person. To contort is to twist the body in unusual ways. To distort is to twist something, such as the truth, so much that it appears to be something else.

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