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 torturing (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 torturer (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 The lack of water was torture, and the meals—molasses and mush—did not help. National Geographic, "https://www.nationalgeographic.com/magazine/2020/02/clotilda-americas-last-slave-ship-stole-them-from-home-it-couldnt-steal-their-identities-feature.html," 16 Jan. 2020 Extrajudicial killings and forced disappearances of activists are ongoing, as is torture, say human rights groups. Washington Post, "U.S. citizen dies in Egyptian prison, despite warnings over his poor medical condition," 14 Jan. 2020 A decade of fighting, marked by widespread human-rights violations, rape, torture, and disappearances, left an estimated 75,000 dead. David Wolman, Outside Online, "The Man Who Chases Auroras to Push Away Darkness," 6 Jan. 2020 To maliciously and intentionally maim, mutilate, torture, wound or kill an animal is a Class D felony on the first offense. Gregory B. Hladky, courant.com, "Federal animal cruelty penalties have been expanded. This is how Connecticut’s animal cruelty laws have worked over the last 10 years.," 27 Nov. 2019 Hailey Baldwin left us in the dark, wondering what her wedding dress looked like for an entire week (ya, it's been torture). Kelsey Stiegman, Seventeen, "Hailey Baldwin Reveals Stunning Bustier Wedding Dress Designed by Off-White's Virgil Abloh," 7 Oct. 2019 And three hours was torture, for the candidates and viewer alike. Los Angeles Times, "7 takeaways from the Democratic debate in Houston," 12 Sep. 2019 Instead, there is torture, a sham trial, and a gulag (called laogai). Nr Editors, National Review, "The Week," 20 June 2019 Survivors have recounted harrowing atrocities including gang rape, mass killings, torture and widespread destruction of property at the hands of the army. Helen Regan, CNN, "Myanmar ordered to prevent genocide against Rohingya by top UN court," 23 Jan. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The year sees the release of director Eli Roth’s Hostel, about people who pay to torture and kill strangers, and Rob Zombie’s The Devil’s Rejects, which concerns the murderous adventures of three serial killers. Clark Collis, EW.com, "Saws, hostels, and human centipedes: A long and unpleasant history of torture porn," 29 Jan. 2020 The babies are believed to have been tortured before being killed. Michael Cabanatuan, SFChronicle.com, "Father of baby boy found dead 13 years ago in Yolo County allegedly killed 5 of his infant children," 27 Jan. 2020 Magnitsky died in a Russian prison in 2009 after being tortured. Caitlin Yilek, Washington Examiner, "Putin critic believes suspected Russian spies could have been targeting him at Davos," 24 Jan. 2020 Two students there claimed to have been tortured in police custody. Time, "'The Police Did Nothing.' Students in India Are Protesting After a Masked Mob Violently Attacked a Top Delhi University," 7 Jan. 2020 All of which are designed to torture your eyes and your imagination. Peter Dawson, Houston Chronicle, "The scariest movie monsters in Texas history," 29 Oct. 2019 When the inquisition began in Spain in 1478, any Jew that did not want to be tortured or murdered had only to convert to Catholicism. Haruka Sakaguchi, National Geographic, "Meet the survivors of a ‘paper genocide’," 14 Oct. 2019 Baugh’s rambling style was the model for quarterbacks of decades later, with their ability both to move the pocket and and to torture defenses by elongating the play. SI.com, "NFL 100: A Century of Pro Football," 28 Aug. 2019 But different governments have different motivations, and commercial spyware has been linked to countless cases of journalists or dissidents being surveilled, tortured and killed. David Meyer, Fortune, "What the alleged Saudi hack of Jeff Bezos says about the encryption debate," 22 Jan. 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

12 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Torture.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/torture?pronunciation&lang=en_us&dir=t&file=tortur01. Accessed 18 Feb. 2020.

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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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