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


tortured; torturing\ ˈtȯrch-​riŋ How to pronounce torture (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


torturer \ ˈtȯr-​chər-​ər How to pronounce torture (audio) \ noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for torture

Synonyms: Noun

Synonyms: Verb

Antonyms: Noun

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Choose the Right Synonym for torture


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 As arguments neared the end, several of the justices pressed Fletcher on the possibility Zubaydah answer questions about his torture. Melissa Quinn, CBS News, 18 Oct. 2021 Though Latin was a sure form of torture for the young Briton, English was indispensable. Tod Worner, National Review, 17 Oct. 2021 Zubaydah’s request that he be permitted to take testimony from the two CIA contractors who oversaw his torture. Raymond Bonner, ProPublica, 6 Oct. 2021 In 2010, lawyers for Mr. Zubaydah brought a legal action in Poland alleging that Polish authorities were complicit in his torture. Jess Bravin, WSJ, 6 Oct. 2021 The perfect torture, therefore, is to kill him while Rory and Chloe go on with their lives. Sara Netzley,, 10 Sep. 2021 And Saint Lawrence, patron saint of cooks, drags along a metal gridiron, the instrument of his torture and death. Benjamin Lima, Dallas News, 26 July 2021 After a Hamas supporter, Haitham Amro, died in the custody of the General Intelligence Service in 2009, an autopsy determined torture was the cause. New York Times, 7 July 2021 Her torture is likely to be a focal point next season, though Miller says the writers haven’t yet started working on season five so nothing is yet set in stone. Dana Feldman, Forbes, 16 June 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb To keep up appearances, he's forced to torture Frost, the Alexandrian captured by the Reapers along with Daryl. Nick Romano,, 27 Sep. 2021 And for all the talk of how the flag is little more than a way to honor ancestors who fought on the battlefield, the Ladners were witness to how that flag was used to torture people who looked like them. Washington Post, 21 Sep. 2021 Her abductors didn’t beat or torture her, but the months in captivity were grueling, living in solitude in the scorching desert and trying not to think about her fate, said Blais. Sam Mednick, ajc, 22 Sep. 2021 Mordini’s film, by oscillating between these two views, attempts to have its cake and torture it too. Jessica Kiang, Variety, 14 Sep. 2021 In a weird kind of way, Matt Nagy might be looking to torture himself a bit over the next six weeks. Dan Wiederer,, 30 July 2021 Regan eventually refashions her hearing aid into a screeching device to torture the aliens, and the first movie ends on a cliffhanger, as Mrs. Abbott pumps her shotgun and her daughter readies their speaker system for carnage. Jo Livingstone, The New Republic, 8 July 2021 Mads Mikkelsen does not cook human flesh, dance passionately on a pier to a pop song, or torture anyone by hitting them in the balls in Doctor Strange. Carrie Wittmer, Vulture, 14 July 2021 Also, a chance to torture Dan Espinoza for one more season sure sounds like a lot of fun. Chancellor Agard,, 30 May 2021

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


1540, in the meaning defined at sense 2b


1588, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for torture


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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Time Traveler for torture

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The first known use of torture was in 1540

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Statistics for torture

Last Updated

20 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Torture.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 Oct. 2021.

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More Definitions for torture



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



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.


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.


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

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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