tor·​rent | \ ˈtȯr-ənt How to pronounce torrent (audio) , ˈtär- \
plural torrents

Definition of torrent

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1a : 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
b : 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 WalkerTorrents of rain drenched the Hamptons …— Chris Mundy
2 : 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
3 : 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
4 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 torrent— Shelley 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


torrented; torrenting; torrents

Definition of torrent (Entry 2 of 3)

1 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
2 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



Definition of torrent (Entry 3 of 3)

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Synonyms & Antonyms for torrent

Synonyms: Noun

Antonyms: Noun

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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: Noun And flooding social media with a torrent of tags went from a sketch comedy conceit to an actual annoyance. Brian Contreras, Los Angeles Times, 1 June 2021 Amid a torrent of upsetting headlines, political commentary and neighborhood rants that define many Facebook feeds, a picture of a sweet tabby next to what looked like pieces of colorful glass broke through the clutter. Erica Wacker, Star Tribune, 28 May 2021 The combination of profit seeking and lax FDA oversight has predictably led to a torrent of lawsuits on behalf of those who have been harmed by mesh in hernia repairs. Harper's Magazine, 27 Apr. 2021 The backlog has ballooned to more than 23 million transactions awaiting processing as the agency pleads for patience amid a torrent of customer complaints. Washington Post, 20 Mar. 2021 Bhimraj and his colleagues on the guidelines panel must navigate through this torrent and highlight the most promising results. Michael Greshko, National Geographic, 28 Aug. 2020 In recent days, Cummings has used Twitter to direct a torrent of criticism at his former employer. Fox News, 26 May 2021 Republicans say that Biden's policies have already let loose a torrent of inflation that will hurt the economy. Josh Boak, Star Tribune, 22 May 2021 Citizen received a torrent of criticism on Twitter for falsely accusing the man. Richard Winton, Los Angeles Times, 17 May 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective The project comes amid a torrent troubling news about the prospects of safely reopening schools. John Bacon, USA TODAY, 16 Aug. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'torrent.' 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 torrent


1608, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1858, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1667, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for torrent


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

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Time Traveler for torrent

Time Traveler

The first known use of torrent was in 1608

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Statistics for torrent

Last Updated

10 Jun 2021

Cite this Entry

“Torrent.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 Jun. 2021.

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More Definitions for torrent



English Language Learners Definition of torrent

: a large amount of water that moves very quickly in one direction
: a large amount of something that is released suddenly


tor·​rent | \ ˈtȯr-ənt How to pronounce torrent (audio) \

Kids Definition of torrent

1 : a rushing stream of liquid
2 : a large amount of something especially that is released suddenly a torrent of rain The mice came out in a torrent.— Robert McCloskey, Homer Price


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