\ ˈtȯrt \

Definition of tort

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

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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

New York, however, does not recognize the specific tort claims pressed in the suit. John Bacon, USA TODAY, "Lawsuit linking Trump to leak of Democratic emails tossed out on procedural grounds," 4 July 2018 The neighbor was acquitted of second-degree murder but lost his tort claim against the dead boy and a friend of his. Randy Maniloff, WSJ, "But Your Honor, It Was Halloween!," 30 Oct. 2018 Ralph’s tort claim against the bar is now in mediation, Ruiz said. Lewis Kamb, The Seattle Times, "Woman alleges sexual harassment, says Washington State Bar Association didn’t hold board exec accountable," 11 Dec. 2018 In Arkansas, outside groups earlier this year spent more than $1.6 million in an effort to unseat a justice who drew the ire of conservatives for past rulings on voter ID laws and tort reform. Andrew Demillo, The Seattle Times, "State supreme court battles mirror the fight over Kavanaugh," 2 Oct. 2018 That number is likely to jump in the wake of the Missouri jury’s decision, said Elizabeth Burch, a University of Georgia law professor who teaches about mass-tort law. Jef Feeley And Margaret Cronin Fisk,, "Johnson & Johnson’s $4.69 billion talc verdict may open floodgates to more suits," 14 July 2018 Attorney Kimberly Jeselskis, who represents the four women, said a tort claim has been filed with the state of Indiana that is required before the state can be sued. Rick Callahan, The Seattle Times, "Indiana attorney general won’t be charged in alleged groping," 24 Oct. 2018 That amount is likely to get dramatically reduced because Ohio's tort reform laws limit punitive damages to twice the amount of compensatory damages. Cory Shaffer,, "Jury slaps Cleveland Clinic Foundation with $28 million judgment in age discrimination suit," 27 Apr. 2018 There are a lot of ways organizations can use bankruptcy to maneuver around the tort system. Michael Hiltzik,, "Is the Sandy Hook massacre the real impetus behind the Remington Arms bankruptcy?," 27 Mar. 2018

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

1586, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for tort

Middle English, injury, from Anglo-French, from Medieval Latin tortum, from Latin, neuter of tortus twisted, from past participle of torquēre

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Dictionary Entries near tort

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Statistics for tort

Last Updated

28 Jan 2019

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Time Traveler for tort

The first known use of tort was in 1586

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English Language Learners Definition of tort

law : an action that wrongly causes harm to someone but that is not a crime and that is dealt with in a civil court


\ ˈtȯrt \

Legal Definition of tort

: 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

History and Etymology for tort

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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More from Merriam-Webster on tort

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with tort

Nglish: Translation of tort for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of tort for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about tort

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