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[tawr-cher-uh s] /ˈtɔr tʃər əs/
pertaining to, involving, or causing torture or suffering.
Origin of torturous
1490-1500; < Anglo-French; Old French tortureus. See torture, -ous
Related forms
torturously, adverb
Can be confused
tortuous, torturous (see usage note at the current entry)
Usage note
Torturous refers specifically to what involves or causes pain or suffering: prisoners working in the torturous heat; torturous memories of past injustice. Some speakers and writers use torturous for tortuous, especially in the senses “twisting, winding” and “convoluted”: a torturous road; torturous descriptions. Others, however, keep the two adjectives (and their corresponding adverbs) separate in all senses: a tortuous (twisting) road; tortuous (convoluted) descriptions; torturous (painful) treatments. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for torturous
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The hush holding it was like the drawn breath of a victim waiting the first turn of the torturous wheel.

  • Carrying a heavy pack down such a grade exerted a torturous strain upon the backs of the legs.

    Space Prison Tom Godwin
  • It was an endless night, torturous with cold and uncertainty.

    The Short Cut Jackson Gregory
  • She was able to right herself to her knees, and after a torturous five minutes reached the fireplace.

    The Million Dollar Mystery Harold MacGrath
  • Heaven help us, I thought, if we had to lie on that torturous stuff for fifteen hours!

    Wings of the Wind Credo Harris
Word Origin and History for torturous

late 15c., from Anglo-French torturous, from Old French tortureus, from Latin tortura (see torture).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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