tor·​ment | \ˈtȯr-ˌment \

Definition of torment 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1 : extreme pain or anguish of body or mind : agony

2 : a source of vexation or pain

3 : the infliction of torture (as by rack or wheel)


tor·​ment | \tȯr-ˈment, ˈtȯr-ˌment\
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

2 : distort, twist

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Synonyms & Antonyms for torment

Synonyms: Noun

agony, Gehenna, hell, horror, misery, murder, nightmare, torture

Synonyms: Verb

afflict, agonize, anguish, bedevil, beset, besiege, curse, excruciate, harrow, persecute, plague, rack, torture

Antonyms: Noun

heaven, paradise

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Choose the Right Synonym for torment


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


No one could understand his inner torment. After years of torment, she left her husband. The mosquitoes were a constant torment.


Not knowing where she was tormented him. he was tormented by nightmares about the accident
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

In fact, the existential horror of the Medium Place (boredom and a lack of cocaine) is treated with much more gravity than the possibility of eternal physical torment. Tara Isabella Burton, Vox, "The (secular) gospel according to The Good Place," 27 Sep. 2018 On June 9, a new adaptation of the 1951 Daphne du Maurier novel My Cousin Rachel arrives in theaters, promising all the twisted minds and psychological torment that make du Maurier's stories so horrifyingly captivating. Julie Kosin, Harper's BAZAAR, "Watch Rachel Weisz Screw with Sam Claflin's Mind in the 'My Cousin Rachel' Trailer," 21 Mar. 2017 There’s the long shadow of Charlie Chaplin, whose monumental success and undeniable genius torment Laurel, and the usual exploitation by Hollywood producers like the titan of silent comedy, Hal Roach. Jason Zinoman, New York Times, "Imagining the Unhappy Life of Stan Laurel," 1 June 2018 Did Incognito torment Martin to the point of near-mental breakdown? Peter King,, "NFC Is About to Get Real," 11 Nov. 2013 Even on the road against a two-time defending champion with a special knack for torment. Will Graves,, "Capitals drop Penguins in OT to advance to conference finals," 7 May 2018 The Washington Post reports: The picture emerging of Lubitz is one of a man haunted, whose ambition to fly brought him both pleasure and torment. Thomas Houston, Popular Mechanics, "Germanwings Co-pilot Accelerated Plane Before Crash," 24 Mar. 2015 The weight of a nation’s torment was off his back, at least for a few sweet moments, and the World Cup had a snapshot for the ages: Lionel Messi climbing on someone else’s back. Bruce Jenkins,, "Lionel Messi lives, and Argentina moves on," 26 June 2018 The investigator also interviewed other members of the girl's family, who described acts of torment toward the girl. Kaitlyn Schwers, kansascity, "Missouri couple accused of tormenting 8-year-old face 52 counts of abuse, neglect," 31 May 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Sancia is more tormented and more streetwise than any hobbit, and Clef builds a rapport with her, unlike Bilbo’s Ring. Tom Shippey, WSJ, "Science Fiction: A Bit of Magic Isn’t Always Enough," 12 Oct. 2018 The part of this service that feels truly detoxifying is the simple feat of being in a room without your device for a full 80 minutes, no ambient phone vibrations tormenting you from inside of your bag. Carrie Battan, Harper's BAZAAR, "Escaping the Seduction of Your Smartphone," 26 July 2018 While Brock is commonly associated with Venom, and having tormented Spider-Man and dealt out lethal protection since 1988, Flash Thompson gained possession of the symbiote suit in 2011’s The Amazing Spider-Man No. 654. Richard Newby, The Hollywood Reporter, "A Eulogy for a Fallen Spider-Man Character," 31 May 2018 In the eighth, right-hander Drew Steckenrider couldn’t hold the lead as former Marlins outfielder Christian Yelich tormented Miami. Matthew Defranks,, "**Brewers Marlins head**," 10 July 2018 Brittany Covington narrated a Facebook Live video of Hill, her sister, and Tesfaye Cooper tormenting the victim, reports CBS Chicago. Crimesider Staff, CBS News, "Man sentenced for hate crime in live-streamed beating of mentally disabled teen," 6 July 2018 The Netherlands gave arguably their most impressive performance in a World Cup match since Johan Cruyff's Oranje tormented Brazil in 1974., "Spain Are Back! Why the Last 3 Major Tournaments Aren't a Blip for Football's Great Underachievers," 5 July 2018 So while there is rejoicing in places like Boston and Philadelphia, and relief in places like Toronto, where James can no longer torment the poor Raptors, there is reason for a bit of hope in places like Detroit. Shawn Windsor, Detroit Free Press, "How good can Detroit Pistons be in the East post-LeBron James?," 3 July 2018 Spliced in between are clips of a deranged young patient, who flip-flops from being tormented in her hospital gown during what appears to be unnecessary surgery to seductively dancing on a platform while surrounded by a faceless mob. Abby Jones, Billboard, "Marilyn Manson Drops Bone-Chilling 'Tattooed In Reverse' Video With Courtney Love: Watch," 23 Mar. 2018

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.

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First Known Use of torment


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 3


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for torment


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

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Statistics for torment

Last Updated

19 Nov 2018

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Time Traveler for torment

The first known use of torment was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for torment



English Language Learners Definition of torment

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: extreme physical or mental pain

: something that causes extreme physical or mental pain



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

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


tor·​ment | \tȯr-ˈment \
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


tor·​ment | \ˈtȯr-ˌment \

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.

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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).


by force of circumstances

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