torment

noun
tor·​ment | \ ˈtȯr-ˌment How to pronounce torment (audio) \

Definition of torment

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : extreme pain or anguish of body or mind : agony She wrung her hands piteously together, looking like a soul in torment.— Lucy Maud Montgomery
2 : a source of vexation or pain Love is a delight; but hate a torment.— Herman Melville … the twin torments of his probable manic depression and chronic stomach pains.— Neal Karlen
3 : the infliction of torture (as by rack or wheel)

torment

verb
tor·​ment | \ tȯr-ˈment How to pronounce torment (audio) , ˈtȯr-ˌment How to pronounce torment (audio) \
tormented; tormenting; torments

Definition of torment (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to cause severe usually persistent or recurrent distress of body or mind to cattle tormented by flies tormented by doubt She liked me, but she laughed at me, and tormented me …— Charles Dickens

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from torment

Verb

tormented adjective
… Emily — who is easily one of the most tormented characters of the show … — Rowan Born The Witch makes the mundane sinister, from the tormented shapes of the corn husks in the field to the weird glow of pewter by candlelight. — Katy Waldman

Choose the Right Synonym for torment

Verb

afflict, try, torment, torture, rack mean to inflict on a person something that is hard to bear. afflict is a general term and applies to the causing of pain or suffering or of acute annoyance, embarrassment, or any distress. ills that afflict the elderly try suggests imposing something that strains the powers of endurance or of self-control. children often try their parents' patience torment suggests persecution or the repeated inflicting of suffering or annoyance. a horse tormented by flies torture adds the implication of causing unbearable pain or suffering. tortured by a sense of guilt rack stresses straining or wrenching. a body racked by pain

Examples of torment in a Sentence

Noun No one could understand his inner torment. After years of torment, she left her husband. The mosquitoes were a constant torment. Verb Not knowing where she was tormented him. he was tormented by nightmares about the accident
See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Was Satan launching weekly torments on New Yorkers? Darren Franich, EW.com, "Evil, the best show on network TV, wraps season 1 with a bleak twist: Finale review," 31 Jan. 2020 The Pennsylvania cop's torment was a constant reminder of the bullet that became lodged in his spine during a 1981 gun battle with a bank robbery suspect. Elizabeth Llorente, Fox News, "Susquehanna Township Police Lt. Robert 'Bo' McCallister persevered despite decades of pain after being shot," 20 Sep. 2019 The film tells of relentless ambition, mental torment, drugs, bankruptcy, unfathomable wealth, courting politicians and of how one written-off young Glaswegian upstart rose to change the face of British culture. Alex Ritman, Billboard, "Danny Boyle to Exec Produce Biopic of Creation Records Founder Alan McGee," 16 Apr. 2019 Pryce brings warmth and patience to the role, but also a twitch of torment. Michael Schulman, The New Yorker, "Oscars 2020 Spotlight: The Actors," 5 Feb. 2020 Now, Houston fans have another heartbreak to add to a long list of torment, and the rest of the NFL gets a week to laugh at the Texans' misfortune. Matt Young, Houston Chronicle, "Memes mock Texans' playoff collapse in Kansas City," 12 Jan. 2020 Now based outside of Seattle, Robinson says her years of torment left her with permanent psychological scars and stripped her of her faith. NBC News, "Nun sexually abused me at Catholic orphanage, woman says," 13 Aug. 2019 The dance itself, though, tended toward the serious, with gracefully fraught solos, a traditionally apprehensive pas de deux for the adulterous Paolo and Francesca, and all kinds of creatures in various states of fanciful torment. Mark Swed, latimes.com, "Review: Thomas Adès’ spectacular ‘Inferno’ gets the Wayne McGregor and Tacita Dean touch," 14 July 2019 Despite being found guilty, Tassi—who evaded similar physical torment during the trial—was never actually punished. Lila Thulin, Smithsonian Magazine, "Nine Women Whose Remarkable Lives Deserve the Biopic Treatment," 7 Feb. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb My narcissistic adoptive mother severely abused me physically, mentally and emotionally as a child, and tormented me financially as an adult. Abigail Van Buren, oregonlive, "Dear Abby: Woman abandoned as a child needs to set boundaries with birth mother," 28 Feb. 2020 But no outfit torments me more than one solitary pink jersey tube dress, worn with no regard for fabric transparency or visible underwear lines, which showcased every stitch of my large floral granny pants underneath. Emily Dixon, Marie Claire, "Bella Hadid Wore a Tiny, Super '90s Tube Dress on the Versace Runway," 24 Feb. 2020 After years of tormenting them in the playoffs, the Warriors beat the Spurs again Thursday. Mike Finger, ExpressNews.com, "Finger: Stuck in the middle, Spurs can’t win for losing," 7 Feb. 2020 Matt McGuire Lizzie's annoying, devious younger brother Matt (Jake Thomas) loved to torment her in his younger years. Sydney Bucksbaum, EW.com, "Lizzie McGuire: Where every character left off in the original series and movie," 19 Dec. 2019 San Marino's first 9-0 defeat in European Championship qualification came in June 1999, when giants Spain tormented them for 90 minutes. SI.com, "The 10 Biggest Wins in European Championship Qualifying History," 13 Oct. 2019 No longer an only child with ample urban comforts, she must get used to a hardscrabble life in the Abruzzo countryside, with taciturn parents who beat their offspring and cruel brothers who torment her. The Economist, "The story of a lost girl," 29 June 2019 Chiron explores his sexuality with his friend Kevin until Kevin joins the bully who torments Chiron, leading to drastic consequences for both boys. Kori Williams, Seventeen, "45 Best Romantic Movies to Watch on Your Next Girl's Night," 5 Mar. 2020 Richard Termine for The New York Times In one play, Eddy is beaten up, spat upon, tormented with homophobic slurs by schoolmates and family. Jesse Green, New York Times, "Fleeing Home, but Not Homophobia," 18 Nov. 2019

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

See More

First Known Use of torment

Noun

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Verb

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for torment

Noun

Middle English, from Anglo-French turment, torment, from Latin tormentum torture; akin to torquēre to twist — more at torture entry 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about torment

Time Traveler for torment

Time Traveler

The first known use of torment was in the 13th century

See more words from the same century

Statistics for torment

Last Updated

25 Mar 2020

Cite this Entry

“Torment.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/torment. Accessed 28 Mar. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for torment

torment

noun
How to pronounce torment (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of torment

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: extreme physical or mental pain
: something that causes extreme physical or mental pain

torment

verb
How to pronounce torment (audio) How to pronounce torment (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of torment (Entry 2 of 2)

: to cause (someone or something) to feel extreme physical or mental pain

torment

verb
tor·​ment | \ tȯr-ˈment How to pronounce torment (audio) \
tormented; tormenting

Kids Definition of torment

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : to cause severe suffering of body or mind to Flies tormented the cattle.
2 : vex sense 1, harass All last year we tormented Webb. Mostly little stuff, like messing with his locker …— Jerry Spinelli, Crash

torment

noun
tor·​ment | \ ˈtȯr-ˌment How to pronounce torment (audio) \

Kids Definition of torment (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : extreme pain or distress of body or mind
2 : a cause of suffering in mind or body The waiting was torment.

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on torment

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for torment

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with torment

Spanish Central: Translation of torment

Nglish: Translation of torment for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of torment for Arabic Speakers

Comments on torment

What made you want to look up torment? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

See Definitions and Examples »

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

March 2020 Words of the Day Quiz

  • field of crocuses
  • Which is a synonym of rectitudinous?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Add Diction

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!