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

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 Also tinged with ominousness — but with farcical undertones — are the Hadean torments, niftily conjured through shadow puppetry. Celia Wren, Washington Post, "Angst and comedy among the Olympians in ‘Pantheon’," 24 June 2019 Lonely Room’’ is a showstopper that opens a chilling window onto Jud’s inner torment, a compound of isolation, longing, fury, and lethal resolve. Don Aucoin,, "You’re doing fine, ‘Oklahoma!’," 14 June 2019 Yet given the torment that Iraq has had to endure and the countless civilian and soldier lives lost in the vicious campaign to wipe ISIS from the territorial map, Baghdad appears to be intent on not taking any chances. Fox News, "Iraq handing out thousands of death sentences in hasty trials for ISIS fighters," 8 June 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

This allows followers who are tormented with doubt and burden of freedom to relax into her totalitarian certainty. Scott Waldman, Scientific American, "Climate Deniers Launch Personal Attacks on Teen Activist," 9 Aug. 2019 Here’s what torments golfers, and messes with their minds, more than anything else: wind. Ron Kroichick,, "Wind can torment U.S. Open players more than any other challenge," 12 June 2019 In an environment clogged with space debris and tormented by storms. Smith Henderson, Popular Mechanics, "Olympia," 20 Nov. 2017 Keeping the secret has tormented Bonnie, and her mental distress has begun to wreak havoc on her life and family. Chloe Foussianes, Town & Country, "Big Little Lies's Season Two Finale Is Upon Us. These Are the Questions It Needs to Answer.," 19 July 2019 Veronique Merrill Warner is equally brilliant in the demanding role of Rhoda’s tormented mother. Tom Titus, Daily Pilot, "On Theater: ‘Bad Seed’ still a good chiller," 16 July 2019 And that 2006 championship came together out of foresight following those tormenting playoff losses to the New York Knicks and then Alonzo Mourning's kidney illness. Ira Winderman,, "Winderman: Should Heat offseason turn into 2020 vision? | Commentary," 30 June 2018 Life changed for Kent after The Babadook, her debut feature about a single mother dealing with the death of her husband and the actual monster tormenting her son. Nick Romano,, "The Nightingale director knows the film is 'a very tough experience.' That's the point.," 11 July 2019 Kelenic and Dunn will be back in their minor league towns soon, back to tormenting the team that dumped them in a doomed effort to win now. Tyler Kepner, New York Times, "At the All-Star Futures Game, Two Reminders of a Painful Mets Trade," 7 July 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.

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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

13 Aug 2019

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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

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