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 American officials should be more hesitant still to distort or destabilize the politics of other countries, especially other democracies, for strategic gain. Hal Brands, Foreign Affairs, 20 Feb. 2024 Wilson has long suffered from mental health issues, including depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder and schizoaffective disorder, with the latter known to cause hallucinations, paranoia and distorted reality. Gil Kaufman, Billboard, 16 Feb. 2024 Featuring kids in online content may distort their self-esteem to be reliant on getting likes online, causing anxiety and stress. Melissa Willets, Parents, 9 Feb. 2024 One source of confusion about economic affairs is that public perceptions of the economy are generally snapshots of longer-term trends, and are therefore inevitably distorting. Michael Hiltzik, Los Angeles Times, 9 Feb. 2024 Apple chief financial officer Luca Maestri warned that year-on-year comparisons for the current quarter will be distorted by a post-COVID surge in demand in early 2023. Lionel Lim, Fortune Asia, 2 Feb. 2024 The robocall incident is also one of several episodes that underscore the need for better policies within technology companies to ensure their AI services are not used to distort elections, AI experts said. Pranshu Verma, Washington Post, 6 Feb. 2024 Officials had ignored a 2004 warning from the State Allocation Board, which parcels out state school bond money, that lease-leaseback procedures were being distorted, potentially undermining the legal integrity of state school bonds. Dan Walters, The Mercury News, 3 Feb. 2024 War is distorting the economy and sucking resources into military production at an unsustainable pace. Tim Lister, CNN, 29 Jan. 2024 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 1 Mar. 2024.

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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