torture

noun
tor·​ture | \ ˈtȯr-chər How to pronounce torture (audio) \

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 How to pronounce torture (audio) , 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 How to pronounce torture (audio) \ noun

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 Forced to endure physical and emotional torture while steadfastly maintaining her innocence, Grace must face her own inner demons as the Devil himself starts to work his way into her mind. Clark Collis, EW.com, "Watch the trailer for Neil Marshall's new horror movie The Reckoning," 5 Jan. 2021 Hundreds of thousands of people turned out for peaceful demonstrations calling on him to step down, triggering a violent crackdown that involved mass detentions, beatings, and torture. Yasmeen Serhan, The Atlantic, "Belarus Is ‘Waiting for Biden’," 27 Dec. 2020 For the less vulnerable, the vaccine will protect against lockdown torture. Sunetra Gupta, WSJ, "How to End Lockdowns Next Month," 17 Dec. 2020 Al-Hathloul rejected an offer to rescind her allegations of torture in exchange for early release, according to her family. Aya Batrawy, chicagotribune.com, "Loujain al-Hathloul, Saudi women’s rights activist, sentenced to nearly 6 years in prison under vague terrorism law," 28 Dec. 2020 Asylum allows an immigrant fleeing persecution or torture to remain in the United States and seek legal residence, and eventually citizenship. Bob Egelko, SFChronicle.com, "New asylum rule bars gays, lesbians facing persecution, immigrants threatened with violence," 11 Dec. 2020 An indictment unsealed Friday charged Bryce McIntosh, 34, with one count of murder with a special circumstance allegation of torture and one count of willful child cruelty. Leila Miller Staff Writer, Los Angeles Times, "Riverside County grand jury indicts father for 8-year-old’s murder and torture," 11 Dec. 2020 Hundreds have been arrested and there have been allegations of torture from people held in custody. Saphora Smith, NBC News, "Belarus' Lukashenko says he will leave his post, state media reports," 27 Nov. 2020 The United Nations considers more than 15 consecutive days of solitary confinement to be torture. Sabrina Maddeaux, refinery29.com, "The Ugly Truth About Solitary Confinement In Canada’s Women’s Prisons," 9 Nov. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Never has an incumbent gone to such unconscionable lengths to torture the truth, bend laws and use intimidation to foil the will of the people. Steve Chapman, chicagotribune.com, "Column: Republicans bowing to Trump are undermining American democracy," 11 Dec. 2020 Santana Khanikar, assistant professor at Jawaharlal Nehru University, writes in her book on state violence that torture in police stations is so routine, it is often used to impress spectators. Mohit Rao, CNN, "Indian police use violence as a shortcut to justice. It's the poorest who bear the scars," 2 Dec. 2020 Mass demonstrations led by Mr. Guaidó fizzled, and Mr. Maduro deployed paramilitaries to torture and kill protesters. New York Times, "Trump, Venezuela and the Tug-of-War Over a Strongman," 1 Nov. 2020 A few days ago, one man threatened to kidnap, tie up and torture his young son. Darcy Costello, The Courier-Journal, "Breonna Taylor shooting 'had nothing to do with race,' officer says in exclusive interview," 21 Oct. 2020 A few days ago, one man threatened to kidnap, tie up and torture his young son. Darcy Costello, USA TODAY, "Breonna Taylor shooting 'had nothing to do with race,' officer says in exclusive interview," 21 Oct. 2020 After years of legal limbo, two members of Islamic State accused of a conspiracy to torture and kill American hostages were brought to the U.S. to face charges last week, hours before the vice-presidential debate. Sadie Gurman, WSJ, "Barr’s Justice Department Touts Fighting Gun Violence as Election Approaches," 14 Oct. 2020 The second, would be to wonder how anyone professing to be a liberal believes that a committee of nations that regularly torture, murder, and imprison political dissidents has any moral or legal standing over American affairs. David Harsanyi, National Review, "A New York Times Columnist Wish-Casts Foreign Intervention into U.S. Elections," 8 Oct. 2020 After the 1973 coup, Pinochet’s military junta consolidated its power through state terror, operating outside any legal framework to disappear and torture thousands and send thousands more into exile. Daniel Alarcón, The New Yorker, "Chile at the Barricades," 5 Oct. 2020

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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Time Traveler for torture

Time Traveler

The first known use of torture was in 1540

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Statistics for torture

Last Updated

17 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Torture.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/torture. Accessed 23 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for torture

torture

noun
How to pronounce torture (audio)

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 How to pronounce torture (audio) \

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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