Synonyms & Antonyms of torture

(Entry 1 of 2)

1 a situation or state that causes great suffering and unhappiness
  • it's torture for me to see you so unhappy

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2 a state of great suffering of body or mind
  • spent an afternoon in torture waiting to hear whether her brother had made it home safely

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Synonyms & Antonyms of torture (Entry 2 of 2)

1 to cause persistent suffering to
  • the neighbor's dog constantly tortures our cat, barking at him and chasing him down the street

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2 to twist (something) out of a natural or normal shape or condition
  • tortured her naturally straight hair into curls

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See the Dictionary Definition 

Frequently Asked Questions About torture

How is the word torture different from other verbs like it?

Some common synonyms of torture are afflict, rack, torment, and try. While all these words mean "to inflict on a person something that is hard to bear," torture adds the implication of causing unbearable pain or suffering.

tortured by a sense of guilt

When is it sensible to use afflict instead of torture?

While the synonyms afflict and torture are close in meaning, 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

When would rack be a good substitute for torture?

The words rack and torture are synonyms, but do differ in nuance. Specifically, rack stresses straining or wrenching.

a body racked by pain

In what contexts can torment take the place of torture?

The synonyms torment and torture are sometimes interchangeable, but torment suggests persecution or the repeated inflicting of suffering or annoyance.

a horse tormented by flies

Where would try be a reasonable alternative to torture?

The meanings of try and torture largely overlap; however, try suggests imposing something that strains the powers of endurance or of self-control.

children often try their parents' patience

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Time Traveler for torture

Time Traveler

The first known use of torture was in 1540

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Cite this Entry

“Torture.” Thesaurus, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 Jan. 2022.

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More from Merriam-Webster on torture

Nglish: Translation of torture for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of torture for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about torture


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