: a wrongful act other than a breach of contract for which relief may be obtained in the form of damages or an injunction

Did you know?

Tort came into English straight from French many centuries ago, and it still looks a little odd. Its root meaning of "twisted" (as opposed to "straight") obviously came to mean "wrong" (as opposed to "right"). Every first-year law student takes a course in the important subject of torts. Torts include all the so-called "product-liability" cases, against manufacturers of cars, household products, children's toys, and so on. They also cover dog bites, slander and libel, and a huge variety of other very personal cases of injury, both mental and physical—Torts class is never dull. If you're sued for a tort and lose, you usually have to pay "damages"—that is, a sum of money—to the person who you wronged.

Examples of tort in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web White’s industry wants politicians to support damage caps and other tort reforms. Glen Luke Flanagan, Fortune, 5 July 2024 The cases include medical malpractice, toxic torts, products liability, asbestos litigation, complex contract issues and class action lawsuits. Carol-Lisa Phillips, Sun Sentinel, 26 June 2024 This torts act allows someone to sue the US government if there has been negligence. Eric Berger, Ars Technica, 21 June 2024 While finalization of the settlement is pending, it has been agreed to in principle by the women and girls who filed administrative tort claims against the agency back in 2022, people familiar with the matter told The Wall Street Journal. Theresa Braine, New York Daily News, 17 Apr. 2024 See all Example Sentences for tort 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'tort.' 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, injury, from Anglo-French, from Medieval Latin tortum, from Latin, neuter of tortus twisted, from past participle of torquēre

First Known Use

1586, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of tort was in 1586

Dictionary Entries Near tort

Cite this Entry

“Tort.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/tort. Accessed 16 Jul. 2024.

Legal Definition


: a wrongful act other than a breach of contract that injures another and for which the law imposes civil liability : a violation of a duty (as to exercise due care) imposed by law as distinguished from contract for which damages or declaratory relief (as an injunction) may be obtained
also : a cause of action based on such an act
the court declined to recognize the tort National Law Journal
cannot sue in tort
compare crime, delict

Anglo-French, wrongful or illegal act, from Old French, injury, from Medieval Latin tortum, from Latin, neuter of tortus twisted, from past participle of torquēre to twist

More from Merriam-Webster on tort

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!