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

Example Sentences

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 Each of its narratives explores human grief in new ways, and each captures something about how technology and corporate interests can distort it. Charlie Jane Anders, Washington Post, 17 Nov. 2022 Such events can distort the picture and limit the degree to which Covestro can automate its forecasting processes, Mr. Toepfer said. Nina Trentmann, WSJ, 6 May 2022 His camera can both distort and reveal reality, catching details that the human eye misses and bringing them, unsparingly, into the light. Justin Changfilm Critic, Los Angeles Times, 10 Nov. 2022 And these exclusions distort the public perception of what sciences are important. Martin Rees, Time, 27 Oct. 2022 Yet Zhukov’s testimony hints at an uncomfortable truth: The online economy is willing to look the other way while bots distort it and line the pockets of cybercriminals. Morgan Meaker, WIRED, 29 Sep. 2022 The present pathologies of our politics distort and impede the legislative function. Ian Macdougall, Harper’s Magazine , 28 Sep. 2022 To function, all of Webb’s instruments must be kept extremely cold, because even slightly warm objects can emit their own infrared light and distort an image. Jackie Wattles, CNN, 27 Sep. 2022 The Chinese embassy in Washington said Beijing opposes the order, adding the measure would limit normal investment in China, disrupt international trade and distort global semiconductor supply chains. John D. Mckinnon, WSJ, 8 Sep. 2022 See More

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.

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 4 Dec. 2022.

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

More from Merriam-Webster on distort

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