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 ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.