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

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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

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

Alas, Kalmar had not adequately summoned the travails and torments that must propel us to this moment. Howard Reich,, "Classical reviews: Perlman’s triumph at Ravinia; Grant Park’s disappointing finale," 18 Aug. 2019 After years of isolation due to his mother’s neglect and torment at the hands of peers because of his sexuality, Chiron is badly beaten by a high school classmate. Prince Shakur, Teen Vogue, "Frank Ocean, Moonlight, and the New Era of Queer Black Men in Pop Culture," 26 Mar. 2019 Her doppelgänger Red, now an adult, arrives on the doorstep with her matching family, all wearing red jumpsuits and distorted expressions, eager to take over the Wilson narrative through torment and murder. Candice Frederick, Harper's BAZAAR, "Us Offers a Terrifying Vision of Judgement Day," 26 Mar. 2019 The torments of family life are not the fault of politics. Graeme Wood, The Atlantic, "Sam Shepard Saw It All Coming," 11 July 2019 The emotional torment of painful memories is just … erased? Ben Giles, Marie Claire, "The New, Cutting-Edge Anxiety Treatments That Sufferers Swear By," 8 July 2019 The first few episodes of Season 3, as if sensing that reality is hewing too close to the show's dystopian vision of the world, trades its depictions of emotional and physical torment for a tone of empowerment and rebellion. Julie Kosin, Harper's BAZAAR, "Elisabeth Moss Finally Finds Hope in The Handmaid's Tale," 12 June 2019 But his torment has only gotten worse in recent months, exacerbated by the knowledge that a significant chapter in his quest to get a state-of-the-art bionic hand has come to an end. Robert Rhoden,, "Tormented by pain, Mandeville veteran continues quest for state-of-the-art prosthetic," 4 June 2019 So, to see Bill Hader torment director Andy Muschietti and much more, watch the video above. Derek Lawrence,, "Watch EW's Comic-Con interview with It Chapter Two cast go hilariously off the rails," 18 July 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

This is the first of four games against the Magic, with losses to Orlando having tormented the Heat in the playoff race in recent years. 11. Ira Winderman,, "Winderman: Unique challenges already in place for Heat | Commentary," 18 Aug. 2019 Every Premier League side will certainly be eagerly awaiting this as analysts have been tormented for the last two years trying to find the answer., "Manchester City 2019/20 Season Preview: Strengths, Weaknesses, Key Man and Predictions," 7 Aug. 2019 Sentence Horror Stories In the first of two new episodes of the anthology series, the ghost of an abusive husband continues to torment his family even after his death. Los Angeles Times, "What’s on TV Thursday: The series finale of ‘Elementary’ on CBS," 14 Aug. 2019 Blackmon, however, would continue to torment the Padres in the top of the fifth, hitting the first pitch from Lauer 408 feet over the right-field wall to tie the game at 3. Kevin Henry, The Denver Post, "Jon Gray, Rockies clobbered by Padres after disastrous sixth inning," 8 Aug. 2019 Paul had tormented the Spurs for years, and with Tony Parker facing an uncertain future after a devastating quadriceps injury, R.C. Buford and Gregg Popovich would have jumped at the chance to add one of the NBA’s elite point guards. Mike Finger,, "Two years later, Spurs learning what they missed," 22 June 2019 With this form of immunotherapy, your body gets acclimated to the allergen that’s tormenting you through a series of shots that increase in dosage. Marisa Cohen, Good Housekeeping, "How to Get Relief From Fall Allergies, According to an Allergist," 19 June 2019 Generic-drug stocks have tormented investors for years. Charley Grant, WSJ, "Generic Drug Stocks are ‘Worst Ever’," 8 May 2019 To torment you, your evil captor forces you to take a series of steps to the left and right. Quanta Magazine, "A Magical Answer to an 80-Year-Old Puzzle," 1 Oct. 2015

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


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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Statistics for torment

Last Updated

27 Aug 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for torment

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

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More from Merriam-Webster on torment

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with torment

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for 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).


one from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan

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