Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. The condition or quality of having many twists and turns.
  • n. A winding channel, passage, or crevice.
  • n. A complicated or involved process.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A winding channel or crevice, such as occur in the depths of the sea or in mountains.
  • n. One of the fissures (sulci) separating the convolutions of the brain, or, by analogy, in the mind.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A state of being anfractuous, or full of windings and turnings; sinuosity.
  • n. A sinuous depression or sulcus like those separating the convolutions of the brain.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. The state or quality of being anfractuous, or full of windings and turnings.
  • n. In anatomy, specifically, one of the sulci or fissures of the brain, separating the gyri or convolutions. See cut under cerebral.

Etymologies

From Lat. anfractuosus, winding (Wiktionary)

Examples

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  • "Not only did I no longer feel the anxious dread of loneliness which had gripped my heart the first evening; I had no longer any need to fear its reawakening, nor to feel myself a homesick stranger in this land productive not only of chestnut-trees and tamarisks, but of friendships which from beginning to end of the route formed a long chain, interrupted like that of the blue hills, hidden here and there in the anfractuosity of the rock or behind the lime-trees of the avenue, but delegating at each stopping-place an amiable gentleman who came to punctuate my journey with a cordial handclasp, to prevent me from feeling its length, to offer if need be to continue it with me."
    --Sodom and Gomorrah by Marcel Proust, translated by C.K. Scott Moncrieff and Terence Kilmartin, revised by D.J. Enright, p 696 of the Modern Library paperback edition

    March 27, 2009

  • "Within the boundaries of their domain, however, the radiant daughters of the sea were constantly turning round to smile up at the bearded tritons who clung to the anfractuosities of the cliff, or towards some aquatic demi-god whose skull was a polished stone on to which the tide had washed a smooth covering of seaweed, and his gaze a disc of rock crystal."
    --The Guermantes Way by Marcel Proust, translated by C.K. Scott Moncrieff and Terence Kilmartin, Revised by D.J. Enright, pp 44-45 of the Modern Library paperback edition

    July 17, 2008

  • Plural anfractuosities. "...and he had suffered much from the inherent malignity of things—no rope, pulled over hte most innocent surface, that did not succeed in twisting upon itself or catching in some minute anfractuosity or protrusion; no saw that did not deviate from its line; no mallet that did not strike his already bruised and purple-swollen hand..."
    —Patrick O'Brian, The Nutmeg of Consolation, 12

    March 6, 2008

  • "Whereas upon that pestilential but longed-for staircase to the old dressmaker's, since there was no other, no service stair in the building, one saw in the evening outside every door-mat in readiness for the morning round, on the splendid but despised staircase which Swann was now climbing, on either side of him, at different levels, before each anfractuosity made in its walls by the window of the porter's lodge or the entrance to a set of rooms, representing the departments of indoor service which they controlled and doing homage for them to the guests, a concierge, a major-domo, a steward (worthy men who spent the rest of the week in semi-independence in their own domains, dined there by themselves like small shop-keepers, and might to-morrow lapse to the bourgeois service of some successful doctor or industrial magnate), scrupulous in observing to the letter all the instructions they had been given before being allowed to don the brilliant livery which they wore only at rare intervals and in which they did not feel altogether at their ease, stood each in the arcade of his doorway with a pompous splendour tempered by democratic good-fellowship, like saints in their niches, while a gigantic usher, dressed in Swiss Guard fashion like the beadle in a church, struck the floor with his staff as each fresh arrival passed him."
    -- Swann's Way by Marcel Proust, translated by C.K. Scott Moncrieff and Terence Kilmartin, p 354 of the Vintage International paperback edition

    January 23, 2008

  • (though I came across it in a footnote to James's Italian Hours)
    "There are chance anfractuosities of ruin in the upper portions of the Coliseum which offer a very fair imitation of the rugged face of an Alpine cliff."

    March 17, 2007