\ ˈtȯrt How to pronounce tort (audio) \

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 Turner, the softball coach until his contract was not renewed this past summer, filed a tort claim notice with the state university system, the report said, potentially setting up legal action. Ron Kroichick,, "Report: DOJ investigating San Jose State’s handling of Title IX complaints," 30 Dec. 2020 Funds generated from it cover expenses related to special education, fire prevention and safety, municipal retirement, social security, operations and maintenance, transportation, tort immunity and education costs, officials said. Karie Angell Luc,, "U-46 property owners to pay 2.3% tax hike in 2021 under levy approved by school board," 15 Dec. 2020 Other industries, after all, are bound by product-safety laws, consumer-protection laws, and tort laws. Sue Halpern, The New Yorker, "How Joe Biden Could Help Internet Companies Moderate Harmful Content," 4 Dec. 2020 More than 6,500 such complaints have been filed across the country, according to a litigation database maintained by law firm Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP, but many of those cases aren’t related to tort liability for exposure. Kristina Peterson And Andrew Duehren, WSJ, "No Agreement on Covid-Aid Liability Reached," 14 Dec. 2020 The draft bipartisan plan contains a six-month moratorium on lawsuits, but the GOP wants federal tort law changes. Erik Wasson,, "Details of $908 Billion U.S. Pandemic Relief Plan Set for Release," 7 Dec. 2020 The Lake Oswego School District, Superintendent Lora De La Cruz and state Sen. Rob Wagner were all named as defendants in the tort claim. oregonlive, "Lake Oswego student plans to sue superintendent, state senator over alleged discrimination at school," 1 Dec. 2020 If a business is not following all of guidance, they would be protected under normal tort law. Tyler Arnold, Washington Examiner, "COVID-19 liability protections a 2021 priority for Virginia Republicans," 13 Nov. 2020 The Supreme Court did not address that constitutional argument, suggesting instead that ordinary tort principles in Louisiana law may shield Mr. Mckesson. Adam Liptak, New York Times, "her first Supreme Court argument," 2 Nov. 2020

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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Last Updated

14 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Tort.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 Jan. 2021.

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How to pronounce tort (audio)

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 How to pronounce tort (audio) \

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 tortNational 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

Nglish: Translation of tort for Spanish Speakers

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

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