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

The man campaigned for the presidency on a promise to reinstate military torture and deliberately murder the wives and children of suspected terrorists. Eric Levitz, Daily Intelligencer, "America Is About to Risk a World War to Defend the Credibility of Trump’s Tweets," 13 Apr. 2018 At the end of the Spanish Civil War, having seized power in a military coup, Franco's repressive regime cracked down on any lingering hint of leftist opposition with mass arrests, prison camps, forced labor, torture and execution. Stephen Dalton, The Hollywood Reporter, "'The Silence of Others': Film Review | Berlin 2018," 21 Feb. 2018 There’s Jamie’s torture and rape by Jack Randall at Wentworth prison. Wendy Naugle, Glamour, "What Outlander Finally Gets Right About Rape This Season," 7 Jan. 2019 Her boyfriend, Kareem Leiva, 32, was also arrested and charged in Anthony’s murder and torture last week Wednesday. Alexia Fernandez, PEOPLE.com, "California Boy, 10, Who Came Out as Gay Before Death Was Tortured for Days: Prosecutors," 4 July 2018 Nevertheless, despite Haspel’s contentious Senate Intelligence confirmation process and her inability to state her stance on the torture used on her watch at the CIA during George W. Bush’s administration, Haspel was confirmed 54-45. Stephen A. Crockett Jr., The Root, "Trump’s Thug, the Ruthless Gina Haspel, Confirmed as the 1st Female CIA Director," 17 May 2018 True, there were other possible reasons for this display of grief—namely the fear that a show of insufficient sorrow might mean imprisonment and torture. Dorothy Rabinowitz, WSJ, "‘The Dictator’s Playbook’ Review: Tyranny 101," 10 Jan. 2019 The court said that factory manufacturing director Pedro Muller and security manager Hector Francisco Sibilla targeted workers and gave information to security agents for their kidnapping and torture after the 1976 military coup. Luis Andres Henao, The Seattle Times, "Former Ford Argentina executives sentenced in torture cases," 11 Dec. 2018 Official brutality has fuelled unrest: extra-judicial killings and torture are commonplace. The Economist, "Terrorists in southern Thailand go on a bombing spree," 24 May 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Since then, he was shuttled between CIA black sites and tortured in several locations. Charles P. Pierce, Esquire, "What's Happening at Gitmo Is a Disgrace," 8 Mar. 2018 Deng’s first son—Deng Pufang, now 74 and crippled since Red Guards upholding Mao’s Cultural Revolution tortured him—swiped at Mr. Xi’s forward-leaning diplomacy in a September speech. Chun Han Wong, WSJ, "Xi Jinping’s Strongman Rule Comes Under Fire as China Celebrates Deng’s Reforms," 18 Dec. 2018 Jon Burge tortured him into confessing was ordered freed Friday while awaiting his third trial on the charges. Megan Crepeau, chicagotribune.com, "Judge orders accused cop killer Jackie Wilson freed days after finding confession tainted," 22 June 2018 Police found video clips on some of their cellphones of the victims—friends, classmates and lovers of the alleged perpetrators—being tortured. David Luhnow, WSJ, "Mexicans, Hit by Murder Wave, Face Long, Often Futile Wait for Justice," 25 Dec. 2018 Injuries from being tortured left him unable to lift his arms above his head. Brooke Singman, Fox News, "John McCain to discontinue medical treatment for brain cancer," 24 Aug. 2018 Serena's using her power to restrict Offred's access to the baby, and Serena doesn't want anything to intrude on this state of pure bliss, and Offred is really being tortured by being so close to her kid, yet unable to even hold her and nurse her. Josh Wigler, The Hollywood Reporter, "How 'Handmaid's Tale' Just Set the Stage for "Powerful" Season 2 Finale," 4 July 2018 She was interrogated by the Gestapo 14 times and tortured, her back scorched with a red-hot poker and all of her toenails pulled out. Elizabeth Winkler, WSJ, "‘Code Name: Lise’ Review: The War’s Most Decorated Woman," 11 Jan. 2019 But there is still plenty of charm, twists, tortured love, biting wisecracks, and glorious candy-color outerwear. Michelle Ruiz, Vogue, "Does The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel Still Sparkle in Season 2?," 5 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

12 Mar 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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