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tor·​rent ˈtȯr-ənt How to pronounce torrent (audio)
plural torrents
: a violent or forceful flow of fluid
Terrifying video captured near Hawaii volcano Kilauea shows a torrent of lava violently flowing down the slopes of the erupting mount …Aurora Bosotti
especially : a rushing stream of water
Beneath the area's dense canopy of vegetation, rugged hills and valleys are bisected by streams that rage as torrents during the rainy season, forbidding terrain for any unwelcome stranger. Anthony Loyd
… the vast network of storm-water drains that move great torrents of water out of the city when it rains … Duncan Murrell
As church bells pealed yesterday, a torrent of water was unleashed through a manmade gap in the 162-year-old Edwards Dam in the first U.S. government-ordered demolition of a dam in the name of conservation. Glen Adams
: a heavy downpour of rain
… a torrent of rain poured down.Walter Farley
usually used in plural
The rain is coming down in torrents. Lightning is flashing.Alice Walker
Torrents of rain drenched the Hamptons …Chris Mundy
: a tumultuous outpouring : rush
Injuries, a 13-game losing streak and a torrent of criticism have turned this into the toughest season of Vince Carter's four-year career.Ian Thomsen
The torrent of money flowing into the field can only be described in superlatives—hundreds of millions of dollars for efforts such as Princeton's Center for the Study of Brain, Mind, and Behavior and MIT's McGovern Institute for Brain Research.Charles Barber
often used in plural
torrents of unsolicited e-mail advertising …Peter H. Lewis
… once he becomes fixed on a subject, the words come in torrents.Jeffrey Goldberg
: a channel of a mountain stream
As we advanced up the valley, the road presented yet another vertiginous challenge. Being a single track carved out of the mountain wall that flanked a glacial torrent, it meant that when a car came from the opposite direction, one had to back to the nearest turnaround.June P. Wilson
computing : a protocol (see protocol sense 3b) that is used to distribute a large computer file (such as of digitized music or video) that has been segmented in small pieces between a large number of peer-to-peer users
… user behaviour, such as use of file-sharing services and protocols like torrentShelley Boose
Over the weekend, several ISPs … began showing a warning to users when they visited certain torrent or other file-sharing websites.Rajat Agrawal
also : a file or set of files that is transferred with this protocol
Let me just share the best way I know how to download torrents without setting off any red flags. Daniel Bulygin
Torrent files have been a top choice of users across the internet to share files for almost two decades. Ivan Mehta


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torrented; torrenting; torrents
intransitive : to move in a torrent (see torrent entry 1 sense 1a)
rivers of torrenting water
Water torrents off hillsides, thunders over falls, sparkles in ponds and pools.Sunset
transitive + intransitive : to download via a torrent (see torrent entry 1 sense 4)
Torrenting itself isn't illegal, but downloading unsanctioned copyrighted material is. It's not always immediately apparent which content is legal to torrent and which isn't.Paul Bischoff
[Dan] Schlosser said that when he was caught torrenting, the University forwarded him a notice of copyright infringement from HBO and warned that if he were caught again, he would have to meet with a representative from the Office of Judicial Affairs.Aaron Fisher


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Examples of torrent in a Sentence

Noun The storm turned the stream into a raging torrent. The rain came down in torrents.
Recent Examples on the Web
On February 7, Senate Republicans blocked a major bipartisan border deal and foreign aid package with assistance for Ukraine and Israel, amid a torrent of attacks on the bill by former President Donald Trump and top House Republicans. Wire Service, The Mercury News, 17 Feb. 2024 The lawsuit, filed in Manhattan federal court Thursday, also named Iran and Syria and is the first of what could be a torrent of lawsuits over the Hamas attack against Israel that left at least 1,200 Israelis dead, according to Israeli officials. Aaron Katersky, ABC News, 1 Feb. 2024 Flashbacks to Barry Sanders would have come in a torrent. Greg Cote, Miami Herald, 29 Jan. 2024 That points to the question of what, if anything, to do about the torrent of copyright infringement lawsuits? Michael Hiltzik, Los Angeles Times, 12 Dec. 2023 Interestingly, many of these witnesses and suspects were identified in the torrent of messages mailed to the police and the press throughout the course of the case. Sam Walters, Discover Magazine, 18 Jan. 2024 After coming forward, Carroll was the target of a torrent of criticism and graphic threats, including of rape and murder, some of which were displayed for the jury on Wednesday. Graham Kates, CBS News, 18 Jan. 2024 Despite that torrent, however, few cases result in arrest. Luke Broadwater, New York Times, 16 Jan. 2024 Such stopgaps could prove particularly important as America enters a presidential election year — its first in history that will take place amid a torrent of cheap, viral AI media. Tribune News Service, Hartford Courant, 6 Jan. 2024
During his torrent week for Norfolk, Stowers hit three homers in one game and knocked in 10 RBIs. Andy Kostka, Baltimore Sun, 28 May 2022 See More

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

Word History



borrowed from French & Latin; French, "violent stream of liquid," going back to Old French, borrowed from Latin torrent-, torrens "rushing stream, river current," noun derivative of torrens, adjective, "flowing headlong, rushing," probably going back to a participial derivative of an Indo-European stative present *tr̥s-eh1- "be dried out, be dessicated," from a verbal base *ters- "dry up, become thirsty" — more at thirst entry 1

Note: According to the hypothesis suggested in the etymology, the original meaning of the noun torrens would have been "dessicated area, dry stream bed"; as such stream beds, particularly in Mediterranean climates, could be filled with fast-flowing water during rainy periods, the meaning shifted to "rushing stream." Hence the homonymy between torrens and the present participle of the causative verb torrēre "to heat so as to dry, scorch, parch" (from *tors-see torrid) would be fortuitous. Such a shift was already hypothesized by the Roman grammarian Sextus Pompeius Festus.


verbal derivative of torrent entry 1


borrowed from Latin torrent-, torrens "flowing headlong, rushing" — more at torrent entry 1

First Known Use


1608, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1858, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1667, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of torrent was in 1608

Dictionary Entries Near torrent

Cite this Entry

“Torrent.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition


: a rushing stream of a liquid
a torrent of rain
: a mountain stream or its channel
: a sudden rush like a stream of liquid
a torrent of criticism


from French torrent "a violent stream of liquid," from Latin torrent-, torrens (same meaning), from torrens (adjective) "burning, flowing with great force," derived from torrēre "to heat so as to dry up or burn" — related to torrid see Word History at torrid

More from Merriam-Webster on torrent

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