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

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

Between 1850 and 1950, thousands of African American men, women and children were victims of lynchings: public torture and killings carried out by white mobs. Kelebogile Zvobgo, The Conversation, "Maryland has created a truth commission on lynchings – can it deliver?," 14 June 2019 The generals most infamous for torture and mass murder were trained at the School of the Americas at Fort Benning, in Georgia. Rachel Nolan, Harper's magazine, "Destined for Export," 10 June 2019 Small-scale resistance would serve no real purpose, inviting only torture and death. Sonia Purnell, Twin Cities, "Sonia Purnell: What D-Day teaches us about the difficulty – and importance – of resistance," 6 June 2019 The next five months were torture, Heder says, as he was shuffled among a handful of detention centers and given little information. Lauren Bohn, Marie Claire, "Who Killed Claudia Gomez?," 2 May 2019 The Syrian government did not respond to a request for comment on the German lawsuit or historical allegations of torture. Louisa Loveluck, Washington Post, "Germany seeks arrest of leading Syrian general on war crimes charges," 8 June 2018 Progress toward trial has been complicated by the alleged terrorists' years in the CIA's Black Sites, and how much national-security evidence defense lawyers can get from prosecutors about their torture in spy agency custody. Carol Rosenberg, miamiherald, "Judge orders top Pentagon lawyer to testify about alleged meddling in the 9/11 case | Miami Herald," 23 May 2018 There’s no artistic merit to the abuse inflicted on Shaun, no deep character arc that’s being serviced by her torture. Barbara Vandenburgh, azcentral, "Gabrielle Union kicks serious butt in violent ‘Breaking In’," 11 May 2018 There were torture chambers and then finally house arrest. Hollie Mckay, Fox News, "Venezuelan opposition leader laments "genocide" in his country, reveals his escape from detainment," 18 Sep. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Stories about elder abuse, including one in April 2018, involving a 70-year-old woman who was kept in a dog kennel and tortured by a family member, are not uncommon. Linda R. Phillips, The Conversation, "Elder abuse increasing, without increased awareness," 14 June 2019 The round stone monument, created by local artists Patricia Nguyen and John Lee, would list the names and dates of those allegedly tortured by Burge and officers under his command for nearly 20 years on the South Side. Alejandro Serrano, chicagotribune.com, "Lightfoot is pressed to fund memorial for police torture victims under Jon Burge," 7 June 2019 Mellott learned children suffer unthinkable acts, like the 18-month-old girl tortured nearly to death by her mommy. Tim Prudente, baltimoresun.com, "Speaking for baby Rose: How a Baltimore detective found his purpose investigating child abuse," 6 June 2019 Khemiri said some of the defendants were tortured by police. Bouazza Ben Bouazza, The Seattle Times, "17 on trial in deadly Tunisian beach attack on UK tourists," 29 Jan. 2019 The children’s father, tortured by their loss, has given up drinking and turned to religion. Dorothy Rabinowitz, WSJ, "‘True Detective’ Review: Grim, Gripping Entertainment," 10 Jan. 2019 McCain - a Navy officer who was captured in Vietnam after his aircraft crashed and was tortured as a prisoner of war - urged his Senate colleagues to oppose Haspel's nomination. The Washington Post, NOLA.com, "White House official derides McCain over Haspel opposition: 'He's dying anyway'," 11 May 2018 The ghost’s role undercuts the novel’s seriousness, and Lu’s attempt to fit it into an explanation for certain developments is not just tortured but unnecessary. Kate Greathead, New York Times, "Three Sparkling Debuts, Joined by New York City," 4 May 2018 Lebanese State Security says Mr. Itani wasn’t tortured. Sune Engel Rasmussen And Nazih Osseiran, WSJ, "Ordeal of Detained and Beaten Lebanese Actor Tests Public Faith in State," 11 Apr. 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

18 Jun 2019

Look-up Popularity

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 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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