1. Infliction of severe physical pain as a means of punishment or coercion.
2. Excruciating physical or mental pain; agony: the torture suffered by inmates in the camp.
3. An experience or cause of severe pain or anguish: "Just to watch them handling thick woolen winter coats in that heat was, for me, a torture" (Arthur Miller).
tr.v. tor·tured, tor·tur·ing, tor·tures
1. To subject (a person or animal) to torture.
2. To bring great physical or mental pain upon (another). See Synonyms at afflict.
3. To overwork, misinterpret, or distort: torture a metaphor throughout an essay; torture a rule to make it fit a case.
[Middle English, from Old French, from Late Latin tortūra, from Latin tortus, past participle of torquēre, to twist; see terkw- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2017 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
The American Heritage Dictionary Blog
Check out our blog, updated regularly, for new words and revised definitions, interesting images from the 5th edition, discussions of usage, and more.
American Heritage Dictionary Products
The American Heritage Dictionary, 5th Edition
The American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms
The American Heritage Roget's Thesaurus
Curious George's Dictionary
The American Heritage Children's Dictionary
The American Heritage Dictionary of Indo-European Roots
The American Heritage Student Grammar Dictionary
The American Heritage Desk Dictionary + Thesaurus
The American Heritage Science Dictionary
The American Heritage Dictionary of Business Terms
The American Heritage Student Dictionary
The American Heritage Essential Student Thesaurus