pertaining to, involving, or causing torture
Origin: 1490–1500; Related forms
< Anglo-French; Old French tortureus.
Can be confused: tortuous
(see usage note at the current entry).
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.