tor·​ment | \ ˈtȯr-ˌment How to pronounce torment (audio) \

Definition of torment

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : extreme pain or anguish of body or mind : agony She wrung her hands piteously together, looking like a soul in torment.— Lucy Maud Montgomery
2 : a source of vexation or pain Love is a delight; but hate a torment.— Herman Melville … the twin torments of his probable manic depression and chronic stomach pains.— Neal Karlen
3 : the infliction of torture (as by rack or wheel)


tor·​ment | \ tȯr-ˈment How to pronounce torment (audio) , ˈtȯr-ˌment How to pronounce torment (audio) \
tormented; tormenting; torments

Definition of torment (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to cause severe usually persistent or recurrent distress of body or mind to cattle tormented by flies tormented by doubt She liked me, but she laughed at me, and tormented me …— Charles Dickens
2 : distort, twist

Other Words from torment


tormented adjective
… Emily—who is easily one of the most tormented characters of the show … — Rowan Born The Witch makes the mundane sinister, from the tormented shapes of the corn husks in the field to the weird glow of pewter by candlelight. — Katy Waldman

Synonyms & Antonyms for torment

Synonyms: Noun

Synonyms: Verb

Antonyms: Noun

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Choose the Right Synonym for torment


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 torment in a Sentence

Noun No one could understand his inner torment. After years of torment, she left her husband. The mosquitoes were a constant torment. Verb Not knowing where she was tormented him. he was tormented by nightmares about the accident
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The 49ers wide receiver was thrilled that head coach Kyle Shanahan, an exacting ex-college wideout, would have a new target to torment. Eric Branch, San Francisco Chronicle, 7 Aug. 2022 One particular Yulin celebrant will select this animal and decide this—this heart-wrenching display of agonizing torment—is today’s lunch. Liza Lentini, SPIN, 16 June 2022 Japanese Breakfast, led by budding superstar Michelle Zauner, turns personal longing, torment, love and confusion into ethereal indie pop songs. Patrick Foster, Washington Post, 16 June 2022 Oh, the torment of being a gimbo (that’s a gay himbo) on Instagram. Brian Moylan, Vulture, 5 Nov. 2021 Lyrically, Halsey conjures a storm of self-loathing and longing, showing glimpses of body horror and psychological torment alike. Sheldon Pearce, The New Yorker, 31 Aug. 2021 Whether the fan base feels similarly after years of torment, however, is another question. Laine Higgins, WSJ, 13 May 2022 What’s more notable, however, is the attention to sound and its descriptive uses — to seed dread, to explore the subconscious and probe the dark, frightened recesses of a mind in torment. David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter, 9 June 2022 But for too many women, that’s when a new kind of torment begins. Ginny Graves, Good Housekeeping, 20 May 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Why torment yourself awaiting an apology that is not likely to come – or an apology that sounds lame. Terry Pluto, cleveland, 4 June 2022 All the shame, all the self-doubt, all the embarrassment, all the frustration of the scam, all back to torment her once again. Susan Tompor, Detroit Free Press, 30 June 2022 Never underestimate the creativity of a show that once had a character bury her rival alive — and then torment her through a walkie-talkie. Kristen Baldwin,, 28 June 2022 Vecna is the most sinister villain of the series, who psychologically preys on teens’ worst fears to torment and kill them. Jackie Strause, The Hollywood Reporter, 2 June 2022 José Leonardo Araujo, a 33-year-old lawyer in Caracas, has spent his adult life in and out of therapy to deal with the suicidal thoughts that torment him at least monthly. Ana Vanessa Herrero, Washington Post, 21 June 2022 At Carlisle and across the country, children were taken far from their families, banned from speaking their languages and cut off from their culture, a legacy that continues to torment tribes and families today. Jeff Gammage, Anchorage Daily News, 13 May 2022 The figure also includes attributes designed to torment viewers looking for meaning: What do the little snakes at his feet mean? Cammy Brothers, WSJ, 7 May 2022 The junior still likes to torment his former coach about cutting him and igniting his archery career. J.l. Kirven, The Courier-Journal, 19 Apr. 2022 See More

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

First Known Use of torment


13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for torment


Middle English, from Anglo-French turment, torment, from Latin tormentum torture; akin to torquēre to twist — more at torture entry 1

Learn More About torment

Time Traveler for torment

Time Traveler

The first known use of torment was in the 13th century

See more words from the same century

Dictionary Entries Near torment




See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for torment

Last Updated

15 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Torment.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 15 Aug. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More Definitions for torment


tor·​ment | \ tȯr-ˈment How to pronounce torment (audio) \
tormented; tormenting

Kids Definition of torment

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : to cause severe suffering of body or mind to Flies tormented the cattle.
2 : vex sense 1, harass All last year we tormented Webb. Mostly little stuff, like messing with his locker …— Jerry Spinelli, Crash


tor·​ment | \ ˈtȯr-ˌment How to pronounce torment (audio) \

Kids Definition of torment (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : extreme pain or distress of body or mind
2 : a cause of suffering in mind or body The waiting was torment.

More from Merriam-Webster on torment

Nglish: Translation of torment for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of torment for Arabic Speakers


Test Your Vocabulary

Words Named After People

  • name tags
  • Namesake of the leotard, Jules Léotard had what profession?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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