con·​vo·​lut·​ed ˈkän-və-ˌlü-təd How to pronounce convoluted (audio)
: having convolutions
a ram with convoluted horns
: involved, intricate
a convoluted argument

Did you know?

The Origin of Convoluted Isn't

Convoluted comes from Latin convolvere, meaning "to roll up, coil, or twist." It is related to the verb convolute, meaning "to twist or coil." Once something is twisted it can be literally and figuratively difficult to unravel, and can be convoluted.

Example Sentences

At base stands a profound respect for the integrity of history and the complex and convoluted relationship between present and the past. Ira Berlin, New York Times Book Review, 9 Sept. 2001 They are pictures of convoluted tree trunks on an island of pink wave-smoothed stone … Margaret Atwood, Harper's, August 1990 … she has been fashioning sequences of plans too convoluted to materialize … Joseph Heller, God Knows, 1984 To therapists, stepfamilies may present convoluted psychological dilemmas … Letty Cottin Pogrebin, Family Politics, 1983 a convoluted explanation that left the listeners even more confused than they were before
Recent Examples on the Web The changes aim to straighten out a convoluted leadership structure. Jonel Aleccia,, 31 Jan. 2023 The changes aim to straighten out a convoluted leadership structure. Jonel Aleccia, USA TODAY, 31 Jan. 2023 Chief among them is their valiant, onesie-wearing spiritual leader of sorts, named Dangerous Beans — a convoluted explanation is given, typical of Pratchett’s taste for rambling shaggy-dog asides — and winningly voiced by David Tennant. Guy Lodge, Variety, 30 Jan. 2023 Yet it was perfectly suited to the sly, cryptic tidings of his lyrics, which might invoke romance, dreams, spiritual quests or the convoluted plotting of film noir. Jon Pareles, New York Times, 29 Jan. 2023 Ninas and Ginos and Ninos and Elenas, each with slippery intentions and a convoluted family history, proliferate. Katy Waldman, The New Yorker, 26 Jan. 2023 For instance, Western classifications of the Middle East, which have never been consistent or accurate, don’t come close to representing the convoluted history and politics of the region. Meaghen Brown, Outside Online, 12 July 2021 Three other kidney tumours showed the same degree of bewildering variety and convoluted history. Ed Yong, Discover Magazine, 8 Mar. 2012 Over in the Midway District, the city’s convoluted attempts at redevelopment exasperated, among others, the San Diego Loyal men’s soccer club CEO. San Diego Union-Tribune, 11 Jan. 2023 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'convoluted.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History


from past participle of convolute

First Known Use

1766, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of convoluted was in 1766


Dictionary Entries Near convoluted

Cite this Entry

“Convoluted.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 6 Feb. 2023.

Kids Definition


con·​vo·​lut·​ed ˈkän-və-ˌlüt-əd How to pronounce convoluted (audio)
: folded or curved in twisted windings
especially : having convolutions
: complicated in form : intricate
convoluted phrasing

Medical Definition


con·​vo·​lut·​ed -ˌlü-təd How to pronounce convoluted (audio)
: folded in curved or tortuous windings
specifically : having convolutions
the highly convoluted human cerebral cortex

More from Merriam-Webster on convoluted

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!

Fashionable Words

  • dog-sunglasses-scarf
  • Which of these items is named for a deadly weapon?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

Solve today's spelling word game by finding as many words as you can with using just 7 letters. Longer words score more points.

Can you make 12 words with 7 letters?