torture

noun
tor·​ture | \ ˈtȯr-chər \

Definition of torture

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : the infliction of intense pain (as from burning, crushing, or wounding) to punish, coerce, or afford sadistic pleasure
2a : something that causes agony or pain
b : anguish of body or mind : agony
3 : distortion or overrefinement of a meaning or an argument : straining

torture

verb
tortured; torturing\ ˈtȯrch-​riŋ , ˈtȯr-​chə-​ \

Definition of torture (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to cause intense suffering to : torment
2 : to punish or coerce by inflicting excruciating pain
3 : to twist or wrench out of shape : distort, warp

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Other Words from torture

Verb

torturer \ ˈtȯr-​chər-​ər \ noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for torture

Synonyms: Noun

agony, Gehenna, hell, horror, misery, murder, nightmare, torment

Synonyms: Verb

afflict, agonize, anguish, bedevil, beset, besiege, curse, excruciate, harrow, persecute, plague, rack, torment

Antonyms: Noun

heaven, paradise

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Choose the Right Synonym for torture

Verb

afflict, try, torment, torture, rack mean to inflict on a person something that is hard to bear. afflict is a general term and applies to the causing of pain or suffering or of acute annoyance, embarrassment, or any distress. ills that afflict the elderly try suggests imposing something that strains the powers of endurance or of self-control. children often try their parents' patience torment suggests persecution or the repeated inflicting of suffering or annoyance. a horse tormented by flies torture adds the implication of causing unbearable pain or suffering. tortured by a sense of guilt rack stresses straining or wrenching. a body racked by pain

Examples of torture in a Sentence

Noun

Waiting is just torture for me. Listening to him can be torture.

Verb

The report revealed that prisoners had been repeatedly tortured. Don't torture yourself over the mistake.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The singer’s arrest and alleged torture at the hands of state agents in August drew widespread condemnation abroad and at home, provoking street protests in Kampala. Rodney Muhumuza, The Seattle Times, "Can we talk? Ugandans try to coax longtime leader to leave," 17 Dec. 2018 Democrats who came out strongly against Haspel's nomination did so because of her previous involvement with the CIA's torture programs for terror suspects and their frustrations with the confirmation process. CNN, "How often have Senate Democrats from Trump country voted with Republicans?," 15 June 2018 McConnell steered the confirmation swiftly past opponents, including the ailing McCain, whose long-distance rejection of the nominee over her role in the CIA's torture program hung over an impassioned debate. The Washington Post, OregonLive.com, "Gina Haspel confirmed as CIA chief despite scrutiny of her role in interrogation program," 17 May 2018 McCain, suffering from brain cancer, vocally opposes Gina Haspel, President Trump’s nominee to run the CIA, who faces a tough confirmation vote because of her association with President George W. Bush’s torture program. Lilliana Mason, Washington Post, "Surprised by the anger toward McCain? Party loyalists can hate apostates as much as opponents.," 16 May 2018 That was also a significant statement, because former CIA officers who have defended the torture program have commonly argued that Congress was briefed and had no problem with it. NBC News, "CIA nominee Gina Haspel now agency shouldn't have tortured terror suspects," 15 May 2018 Nobody who willingly worked in the torture program should be allowed any closer to a U.S. government job than a cell at The Hague. Charles P. Pierce, Esquire, "The Correction Matters. The Reporting Matters, Too.," 16 Mar. 2018 On Thursday, the International Criminal Court in The Hague, which prosecutes war crimes and other mass killings, torture and rape, warned of a heightened risk of violence surrounding the elections. Gabriele Steinhauser, WSJ, "Congo Postpones Vote to Elect Successor to Kabila by a Week," 20 Dec. 2018 As a young man, McCain had been held as a prisoner of war for five years, suffering torture and injuries that would leave him with disabilities for the rest of his life. Jenny Hollander, Marie Claire, "John McCain Is Dead at 81," 26 Aug. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The 39-year-old man from Cameroon said that he was sold twice as a slave, kidnapped and tortured in Libya while awaiting his chance to get aboard a smuggler's boat. Renata Brito And Frances D'emilio, chicagotribune.com, "Fear turns to joy as rescue boat saves 60 in Mediterranean Sea," 30 June 2018 Last week, Leibel was found guilty for the first-degree murder of Iana Kasian, who was found drained of her blood, scalped and tortured in their West Hollywood apartment in May 2016. Alexia Fernandez, PEOPLE.com, "Trust Fund Graphic Novelist Sentenced to Life in Prison For Torturing Fiancée Next to Baby Daughter," 26 June 2018 In 2012, the death of 35-year-old Rosa Elvira Cely, raped and tortured in a public park in the Colombian capital of Bogota, brought thousands of people onto the streets. Lucy Sherriff/bogota, Time, "Colombia Was Just Starting to Deliver Justice to Women. Will a New President Get in the Way?," 19 June 2018 The scatological soft rock of the comedian Tim Heidecker’s Too Dumb for Suicide opens with a vow to keep dissenting even if tortured in the basement of Trump Tower. Spencer Kornhaber, The Atlantic, "Can Protest Art Get Its Mojo Back?," 7 May 2018 North Korea previously denied allegations by Mr. Trump and the Warmbier family that the young college student was tortured in custody. CBS News, "Parents of slain student Otto Warmbier sue North Korea over son's death," 27 Apr. 2018 Salah is now the first Reds player to hit four in a Premier League match since King Luis tortured Norwich in front of the Kop back in December of 2013. SI.com, "FanView: Messi Comparisons Are Hyperbole But 4-Goal Salah Is Emulating Suarez at Liverpool," 18 Mar. 2018 Both men were tortured in custody, says Human Rights Watch. The Economist, "Chechnya moves to silence Oyub Titiev, a courageous critic," 17 Jan. 2018 Puerto Rico fell off many travelers’ radars after Hurricane Maria tortured the island in September 2017, wiping out thousands of lives and homes, denuding flora and laying waste to the power grid—and the recovery has been difficult. Sara Clemence, WSJ, "Puerto Rico on the Rebound: A Three-Day Getaway Guide," 26 Dec. 2018

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

Noun

1540, in the meaning defined at sense 2b

Verb

1588, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for torture

Noun

Middle French, from Old French, from Late Latin tortura, from Latin tortus, past participle of torquēre to twist; probably akin to Old High German drāhsil turner, Greek atraktos spindle

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Statistics for torture

Last Updated

15 Jan 2019

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Time Traveler for torture

The first known use of torture was in 1540

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More Definitions for torture

torture

noun

English Language Learners Definition of torture

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: the act of causing severe physical pain as a form of punishment or as a way to force someone to do or say something

: something that causes mental or physical suffering : a very painful or unpleasant experience

torture

verb

English Language Learners Definition of torture (Entry 2 of 2)

: to cause (someone) to experience severe physical pain especially as a form of punishment or to force that person to do or say something

: to cause (someone) to feel very worried, unhappy, etc.

torture

noun
tor·​ture | \ ˈtȯr-chər \

Kids Definition of torture

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : the act of causing great pain especially to punish or to obtain a confession
2 : distress of body or mind Waiting is just torture for me.

torture

verb
tortured; torturing

Kids Definition of torture (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : to punish or force someone to do or say something by causing great pain
2 : to cause great suffering to

Other Words from torture

torturer noun

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Comments on torture

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