: 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 Rollins and his attorney filed a tort claims demand letter on May 3, but have yet to receive a response from the defendants, the lawsuit says. Ainslie Lee | Alee@al.com, al, 15 Sep. 2023 In a tort claims demand letter filed May 3, Rollins’ attorney, Carroll Rhodes, described the player as a model student-athlete on and off the field who regularly made the honor roll. Elizabeth Chuck, NBC News, 15 Sep. 2023 Two months later, in December 2021, Kristina Schlieter, a tort claims attorney with the Navy’s Office of the Judge Advocate General in Norfolk, emailed Petitfrere’s lawyer, David Sheldon, saying that the military’s expert reviewed Wheeler’s report. Ian Shapira, Anchorage Daily News, 14 Sep. 2023 Litigation abuse is a tax that every citizen pays into the tort system, costing each Florida household more than $5,000 in 2020, according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Institute for Legal Reform. The Editorial Board, WSJ, 31 Mar. 2023 But Senate President Matt Huffman previously said the committee could look at issues such as tort law, which deals with civil suits and the relief someone can seek for being wronged. Haley Bemiller, USA TODAY, 2 Mar. 2023 Specializing in auto and trucking accidents, catastrophic injuries, mass torts and wrongful death, the firm opened its first office in Columbus, Ohio last year. William Thornton | Wthornton@al.com, al, 27 June 2023 Nathan Morris also spoke in favor of the bill as the vice president of the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform, a tort reform group. Josephine Peterson, Dallas News, 17 Mar. 2023 The Temu lawsuit alleges that Shein used monopolistic powers to keep the rival out of the ultra-fast fashion marketplace, violating the Sherman Anti-Trust Act as well as other torts. James Powel, USA TODAY, 19 July 2023 See More

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 24 Sep. 2023.

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

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