1. the act of inflicting excruciating pain, as punishment or revenge, as a means of getting a confession or information, or for sheer cruelty.
  2. a method of inflicting such pain.
  3. Often tortures. the pain or suffering caused or undergone.
  4. extreme anguish of body or mind; agony.
  5. a cause of severe pain or anguish.

verb (used with object), tor·tured, tor·tur·ing.

  1. to subject to torture.
  2. to afflict with severe pain of body or mind: My back is torturing me.
  3. to force or extort by torture: We’ll torture the truth from his lips!
  4. to twist, force, or bring into some unnatural position or form: trees tortured by storms.
  5. to distort or pervert (language, meaning, etc.).

verb (tr)

  1. to cause extreme physical pain to, esp in order to extract information, break resistance, etcto torture prisoners
  2. to give mental anguish to
  3. to twist into a grotesque form


  1. physical or mental anguish
  2. the practice of torturing a person
  3. a cause of mental agony or worry

early 15c., “contortion, twisting, distortion,” from Old French torture “infliction of great pain, great pain, agony,” and directly from Late Latin torture “a twisting, writhing, torture, torment,” from stem of Latin torquere “to twist, turn, wind, wring, distort” (see thwart).


1580s, from torture (n.). Related: Tortured; torturing.

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