1 of 2


tor·​ment ˈtȯr-ˌment How to pronounce torment (audio)
: extreme pain or anguish of body or mind : agony
She wrung her hands piteously together, looking like a soul in torment.Lucy Maud Montgomery
: 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
: the infliction of torture (as by rack or wheel)


2 of 2


tormented; tormenting; torments

transitive verb

: 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
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

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
Like Queen before it, the band ignited the imaginations of the young people in front of them who’d experienced the same psychological torment, violence, and terror. Matthew Dursum, SPIN, 20 Nov. 2023 And definitely not Viola Davis devouring the coldly futuristic scenery as a malevolent doctor with a fright wig, one piercing ice-blue eye and Drag Race-strength makeup, cooking up increasingly cruel torments to unleash on the games’ hapless contestants. David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter, 9 Nov. 2023 She’s become a cause célèbre of sorts in Hollywood, yet is still coming to terms with her years of torment at the hands of the government. Marlow Stern, Rolling Stone, 31 Oct. 2023 And most writers spend much of their time in various kinds of torment: wanting to write, being unable to write; wanting to write differently, being unable to write differently. . . . The New Yorker, 17 Oct. 2023 In recent days, relatives’ torment has been compounded as grisly videos of the onslaught have emerged, some taken clandestinely by residents or kibbutz security cameras. Laura King, Los Angeles Times, 17 Oct. 2023 Arnold has been arrested at least five times for the aerial torment but nothing has deterred him. Rebecca Rosenberg, Fox News, 9 Oct. 2023 The literature primarily upheld the negative hypothesis and found evidence that the torment changes victims of bullying. Emilie Le Beau Lucchesi, Discover Magazine, 5 Sep. 2023 By no means does such a temperature as ours on Saturday even suggest the torments afflicting parts of the country currently experiencing summer at its extremes. Martin Weil, Washington Post, 16 July 2023
Since the shooting, Muñoz Puente’s aunt has struggled to rid herself of the vivid images that torment her. Arelis R. Hernández, Washington Post, 24 Nov. 2023 As Camilo’s family unravels—his father tormented by his work as a doctor for the regime’s torturers, his mother beset by madness—Camilo and Cosme experience the bliss of infatuation, before tragedy occurs, one made all the crueller by the author’s own death by suicide, at the age of twenty-nine. By Isaac Chotiner, The New Yorker, 20 Nov. 2023 The film will center around a story about a mundane 62-year-old diabetic insurance worker, Biplab, who is tormented by everyday trivialities. Sophia Sun, Variety, 6 Nov. 2023 At long last, the world finally has an answer to a question that has tormented social media for years. Kyle Denis, Billboard, 23 Oct. 2023 The Urdu-language horror movie, which premiered as part of Cannes Directors’ Fortnight lineup, follows a young woman and her mother tormented by real and fantastic forces following the death of the family patriarch. Etan Vlessing, The Hollywood Reporter, 7 Nov. 2023 Quarterback Patrick Mahomes and tight end Travis Kelce tormented the Chargers early. Houston Mitchell, Los Angeles Times, 23 Oct. 2023 My parents were loving but detached, which offered my brother (who was 2½ years older) endless opportunities to torment me. Amy Dickinson, Washington Post, 10 Oct. 2023 Naturally, the orphans start being tormented by a demon, who was summoned after the girl’s parents prayed to whatever entity would bring their daughter back. Vulture, 8 Sep. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'torment.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History



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

First Known Use


13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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

Dictionary Entries Near torment

Cite this Entry

“Torment.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 5 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


1 of 2 noun
tor·​ment ˈtȯr-ˌment How to pronounce torment (audio)
: extreme pain or distress of body or mind
: a cause of suffering in mind or body


2 of 2 verb
tor·​ment tȯr-ˈment How to pronounce torment (audio)
: to cause severe suffering of body or mind to
: to cause worry, distress, or trouble to : harass

More from Merriam-Webster on torment

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

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