tor·​rent | \ ˈtȯr-ənt How to pronounce torrent (audio) , ˈtär- \
plural torrents

Definition of torrent

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1a : a violent or forceful flow of fluid Terrifying video captured near Hawaii volcano Kilauea shows a torrent of lava violently flowing down the slopes of the erupting mount …— Aurora Bosotti especially : a rushing stream of water Beneath the area's dense canopy of vegetation, rugged hills and valleys are bisected by streams that rage as torrents during the rainy season, forbidding terrain for any unwelcome stranger. — Anthony Loyd … the vast network of storm-water drains that move great torrents of water out of the city when it rains … — Duncan Murrell As church bells pealed yesterday, a torrent of water was unleashed through a manmade gap in the 162-year-old Edwards Dam in the first U.S. government-ordered demolition of a dam in the name of conservation. — Glen Adams
b : a heavy downpour of rain … a torrent of rain poured down.— Walter Farley usually used in plural The rain is coming down in torrents. Lightning is flashing.— Alice WalkerTorrents of rain drenched the Hamptons …— Chris Mundy
2 : a tumultuous outpouring : rush Injuries, a 13-game losing streak and a torrent of criticism have turned this into the toughest season of Vince Carter's four-year career.— Ian Thomsen The torrent of money flowing into the field can only be described in superlatives—hundreds of millions of dollars for efforts such as Princeton's Center for the Study of Brain, Mind, and Behavior and MIT's McGovern Institute for Brain Research.— Charles Barber often used in plural torrents of unsolicited e-mail advertising …— Peter H. Lewis… once he becomes fixed on a subject, the words come in torrents.— Jeffrey Goldberg
3 : a channel of a mountain stream As we advanced up the valley, the road presented yet another vertiginous challenge. Being a single track carved out of the mountain wall that flanked a glacial torrent, it meant that when a car came from the opposite direction, one had to back to the nearest turnaround.— June P. Wilson
4 computing : a protocol (see protocol sense 3b) that is used to distribute a large computer file (such as of digitized music or video) that has been segmented in small pieces between a large number of peer-to-peer users … user behaviour, such as use of file-sharing services and protocols like torrent— Shelley Boose Over the weekend, several ISPs … began showing a warning to users when they visited certain torrent or other file-sharing websites.— Rajat Agrawal also : a file or set of files that is transferred with this protocol Let me just share the best way I know how to download torrents without setting off any red flags. — Daniel Bulygin Torrent files have been a top choice of users across the internet to share files for almost two decades. — Ivan Mehta


torrented; torrenting; torrents

Definition of torrent (Entry 2 of 3)

1 intransitive : to move in a torrent (see torrent entry 1 sense 1a) rivers of torrenting water Water torrents off hillsides, thunders over falls, sparkles in ponds and pools.Sunset
2 transitive + intransitive : to download via a torrent (see torrent entry 1 sense 4) Torrenting itself isn't illegal, but downloading unsanctioned copyrighted material is. It's not always immediately apparent which content is legal to torrent and which isn't.— Paul Bischoff [Dan] Schlosser said that when he was caught torrenting, the University forwarded him a notice of copyright infringement from HBO and warned that if he were caught again, he would have to meet with a representative from the Office of Judicial Affairs.— Aaron Fisher



Definition of torrent (Entry 3 of 3)

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Synonyms & Antonyms for torrent

Synonyms: Noun

Antonyms: Noun

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Examples of torrent in a Sentence

Noun The storm turned the stream into a raging torrent. The rain came down in torrents.
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The torrent, swollen by the melting snow, plunges into a tremendous abyss, from which the spray rolls up like the smoke from a burning house. Andrew Stuttaford, National Review, 3 Oct. 2021 Perhaps the most concerning aspect of the torrent of revelations is that the danger to American democracy has not passed. Stephen Collinson, CNN, 22 Sep. 2021 The fusion reactions produced a torrent of subatomic particles known as neutrons — more than instruments could count. New York Times, 17 Aug. 2021 In an explosive 2019 CBS interview with Gayle King, Kelly denied all of the allegations against him, instead claiming the torrent of accusations were part of a grand conspiracy targeting him. Zoe Christen Jones, CBS News, 28 Sep. 2021 The torrent of bad news for Richards had not yet overcome him at the taping. Daniel D'addario, Variety, 13 Sep. 2021 With the normal rules suspended, some experimental work has actually managed to sneak uptown (Dana H. and Is This a Room), and there’s the precedent-obliterating torrent of dramas written by Black playwrights. Helen Shaw, Vulture, 2 Sep. 2021 The online torrent came after the military was criticized on social media for photos and videos that purportedly showed U.S. forces giving priority to evacuating service dogs over Afghan people fleeing the Taliban. Matthew Brown, USA TODAY, 31 Aug. 2021 There’s something undeniably powerful about the sheer torrent of documentary photography on display here. Soleil Ho, San Francisco Chronicle, 29 Aug. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective The project comes amid a torrent troubling news about the prospects of safely reopening schools. John Bacon, USA TODAY, 16 Aug. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'torrent.' 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 torrent


1608, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1858, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1667, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for torrent


borrowed from French & Latin; French, "violent stream of liquid," going back to Old French, borrowed from Latin torrent-, torrens "rushing stream, river current," noun derivative of torrens, adjective, "flowing headlong, rushing," probably going back to a participial derivative of an Indo-European stative present *tr̥s-eh1- "be dried out, be dessicated," from a verbal base *ters- "dry up, become thirsty" — more at thirst entry 1

Note: According to the hypothesis suggested in the etymology, the original meaning of the noun torrens would have been "dessicated area, dry stream bed"; as such stream beds, particularly in Mediterranean climates, could be filled with fast-flowing water during rainy periods, the meaning shifted to "rushing stream." Hence the homonymy between torrens and the present participle of the causative verb torrēre "to heat so as to dry, scorch, parch" (from *tors-see torrid) would be fortuitous. Such a shift was already hypothesized by the Roman grammarian Sextus Pompeius Festus.


verbal derivative of torrent entry 1


borrowed from Latin torrent-, torrens "flowing headlong, rushing" — more at torrent entry 1

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Learn More About torrent

Time Traveler for torrent

Time Traveler

The first known use of torrent was in 1608

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Dictionary Entries Near torrent

Torrens, Lake


torrent bow

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Statistics for torrent

Last Updated

20 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Torrent.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 Oct. 2021.

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More Definitions for torrent



English Language Learners Definition of torrent

: a large amount of water that moves very quickly in one direction
: a large amount of something that is released suddenly


tor·​rent | \ ˈtȯr-ənt How to pronounce torrent (audio) \

Kids Definition of torrent

1 : a rushing stream of liquid
2 : a large amount of something especially that is released suddenly a torrent of rain The mice came out in a torrent.— Robert McCloskey, Homer Price

More from Merriam-Webster on torrent

Nglish: Translation of torrent for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of torrent for Arabic Speakers


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