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)


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
2 : distort, twist

Other Words from torment


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

Synonyms & Antonyms for torment

Synonyms: Noun

Synonyms: Verb

Antonyms: Noun

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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

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
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Yet there has never been any recognition or explanation of that torment. New York Times, 19 Apr. 2022 In Washington state, Democrat Patty Murray was one of the women driven to run for Congress after watching Hill’s torment. Mark Z. Barabakcolumnist, Los Angeles Times, 31 Mar. 2022 Listen to the macabre moments of real-life people, like the son watching a demon torment his father in his dreams or the nurse haunted by the specters of patients past., 25 Oct. 2021 Recurrent imagery of fire, hurricanes, chains serve as stand-ins for psychological torment meant to be conquered. Kat Bouza, Rolling Stone, 25 Mar. 2022 The dark comedy sees the characters come to grips with the situation in close quarters, sheer torment ensues. John Hopewell, Variety, 21 Mar. 2022 But having the copyright to the clip would not end his family's torment. Chris Harris,, 24 Feb. 2022 The lay committee says the allegations tell of psychological torment kept secret for decades. Laura Blasey, Los Angeles Times, 11 Feb. 2022 Bandwagoning is a fun and 100% socially acceptable way of enjoying football without much emotional torment, or lining the pockets of a gambling app with a name like MortgageSucker. Jason Gay, WSJ, 20 Jan. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Dorfman delays the part of the movie where a trio of masked intruders show up to torment Lucas, his girlfriend Chloe (Ines Spirodinov) and their dinner-party hosts Eva (Catalina Sandino Moreno) and Adam (Iwon Rheon). Noel Murray, Los Angeles Times, 1 Apr. 2022 Now, the Tar Heels can torment the Blue Devils and their coach again, denying him a sixth national championship. New York Times, 28 Mar. 2022 Guilt seemed to torment him: over his decision to leave China, over things left unspoken and undone. John Beck, Harper’s Magazine , 16 Mar. 2022 Ana de Armas and Ben Affleck torment each other in a tale of fatal attractions, indecent proposals, and aggressive biking. Darren Franich,, 16 Mar. 2022 But all the while there was a hypervigilant, nitpicky idealist inside me, crouched and ready to spring out and torment everyone with her punishing intensity. Heather Havrilesky, The Atlantic, 7 Feb. 2022 Much of the blame for the overall weakening economic outlook can be laid at the feet of Covid-19, which has continued to torment the world with outbreaks and new variants. Jonathan Cheng, WSJ, 17 Jan. 2022 In a crossover event of epic proportions, Willem Dafoe’s Green Goblin, Jamie Foxx’s Electro and Alfred Molina’s Doctor Otto Octavius drop by to wreak havoc and torment Spider-Man. Rebecca Rubin, Variety, 19 Dec. 2021 Those in-person social interactions, the sort that emotionally challenge, enlighten and torment our children, were not transferable to video conference calls. Elissa Strauss, CNN, 1 Nov. 2021 See More

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.

First Known Use of torment


13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


13th 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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Time Traveler for torment

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

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Last Updated

11 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Torment.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 16 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for torment


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


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.

More from Merriam-Webster on torment

Nglish: Translation of torment for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of torment for Arabic Speakers


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