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 government has also been accused of stomping out dissent through political detentions, torture and extrajudicial killings. Isa Soares And Jackie Castillo, CNN, "Venezuelan opposition and Maduro government to hold talks in Barbados," 8 July 2019 At least 6,000 migrants from Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia, Sudan and other nations are locked in dozens of detention facilities in Libya run by militias accused of torture and other abuses, the Associated Press says. Greg Norman | Fox News, Fox News, "Airstrike in Libya flattens migrant detention center, killing at least 44," 4 July 2019 But his journey was riddled with torture and abuse. Maggie Michael, BostonGlobe.com, "Deadly land, deadly sea: Libya migrants face brutal choice," 4 July 2019 At least 6,000 migrants from Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia, Sudan and other nations are locked in dozens of detention facilities in Libya run by militias accused of torture and other abuses. Author: Rami Musa, Samy Magdy, Anchorage Daily News, "Airstrike kills 44 migrants in Libyan detention center," 3 July 2019 One concern is that the law might be used to send criminal suspects to China to potentially face vague political charges, possible torture and unfair trials. Jane Onyanga-omara, USA TODAY, "Hong Kong police clear streets as protesters move to park," 17 June 2019 It is usually reserved for those who are most at risk, including survivors of torture and children. Ana Campoy, Quartz, "Canada now offers refugees the best chance for a permanent home," 20 June 2019 The charge carries special circumstance allegations of torture and child abuse causing death, according to online court records, making her eligible for the death sentence if found guilty. Chris Harris, PEOPLE.com, "Calif. Mom Allegedly Starved Son, 11, and Locked Him in Closet for 3 Years Before Death," 20 June 2019 Since then the forces have faced widespread accusations of torture and attacks on villages in Darfur, the partnership continuing unabated. Justin Lynch, The New Republic, "The West’s Complicity in Sudan’s Massacres," 18 June 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

In what the United Nations has described as genocide, people were tortured, raped, and murdered, their houses burned and their animals killed. Gaia Vince, Quartz, "How to survive in the world’s largest refugee camp," 8 June 2019 In court documents, prosecutors say Krabbe was beaten and tortured. Dallas News, "Man who fled to Mexico after 2017 Irving slaying arrested when he tried to re-enter U.S., police say," 24 June 2019 Please help me its really torturing me and my business. Liz Teitz, ExpressNews.com, "Someone asked Google — repeatedly — to remove material on Judson ISD trustee," 22 June 2019 Later, McGinnis and her stepsiblings would tell authorities that Piette had frequently used crystal methamphetamine and tortured them with sticks, rocks and knives. The Washington Post, The Mercury News, "Her ‘predator’ stepfather held her captive for 19 years. A grocery store conversation changed everything.," 13 June 2019 These grain gurus could, quite literally, spend their whole careers tasting, testing, and torturing themselves in pursuit of the perfect recipe. Andrew Daniels, Popular Mechanics, "Here Comes the World’s First AI-Generated Whisky," 10 May 2019 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

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

16 Jul 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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