Definitions

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

  • adj. Having or marked by repeated turns or bends; winding or twisting: a tortuous road through the mountains.
  • adj. Not straightforward; circuitous; devious: a tortuous plot; tortuous reasoning.
  • adj. Highly involved; complex: tortuous legal procedures.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Twisted; having many turns; convoluted.
  • adj. injurious; tortious
  • adj. oblique; applied to the six signs of the zodiac (from Capricorn to Gemini) that ascend most rapidly and obliquely

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Bent in different directions; wreathed; twisted; winding.
  • adj. Fig.: Deviating from rectitude; indirect; erroneous; deceitful.
  • adj. Injurious: tortious.
  • adj. Oblique; -- applied to the six signs of the zodiac (from Capricorn to Gemini) which ascend most rapidly and obliquely.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Full of twists or turns; winding; hence, crooked; zigzag.
  • Oblique: applied in astrology to the six zodiacal signs which ascend most rapidly and obliquely.
  • Figuratively, circuitous; devious; irregular; crooked: especially in a moral sense.
  • Synonyms Sinuous, serpentine, curvilinear, circuitous, indirect, roundabout.
  • An obsolete variant of tortious.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adj. marked by repeated turns and bends
  • adj. not straightforward
  • adj. highly complex or intricate and occasionally devious

Etymologies

Middle English, from Anglo-Norman, from Latin tortuōsus, from tortus, a twisting, from past participle of torquēre, to twist
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Latin tortuosus, from tortus ("a twisting, winding"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • The 47-year-old Nigerian immigrant and Woodbridge resident says she escaped what she called a tortuous relationship nine years ago, nearly became homeless, and she is now the owner of Certified Skilled Nursing Services and Associates Inc. in Dumfries.

    News for InsideNova.com

  • Winds and seismic and tectonic disruptions have left their mark in tortuous folds and uplifts, deep gashes, and conical incrustations that hark back far before the age of human folly.

    Pakistan’s Fatal Shore

  • And if it takes the best legal minds at DOJ and the Whitehouse MONTHS to come up with "innovative" legal logic that justifies the current NSA program (as they have claimed), how thin and tortuous is that logic?

    Balkinization

  • Tortoise harks back to the Latin _tortus_, meaning twisted (hence our word tortuous) and came to be applied to these slow creatures because of their twisted legs.

    The Log of the Sun A Chronicle of Nature's Year

  • Above all she was natural -- that was indubitable now; more natural than he had supposed at first, perhaps on account of her aesthetic toggery, which was conventionally unconventional, suggesting what he might have called a tortuous spontaneity.

    The Lesson of the Master

  • But her voice breaks and she dabs at her eyes occasionally when she recalls the tortuous path she followed from Monterey in the northern Mexican state of Nuevo Leon to

    Durangoherald.com

  • It makes me wonder if Gonzales and Yoo head up a child porno ring to remain silent on this, they too must be engaging in some filthy 'tortuous' child predator activities.

    Handy Timeline Of Foleygate Scandal

  • It took Mr. McNeil six "tortuous" months before he was able to run the entire distance.

    Prepping for 50- and 100-Mile Races

  • The local district attorney, Elizabeth Scheibel, charged nine students with a variety of crimes, including stalking, harassment and statutory rape, saying they had made Prince's last day alive "tortuous".

    The Sydney Morning Herald News Headlines

  • CALGARY - A Calgary mother fighting to free her son from the American foster system says she hopes the "tortuous" two-year separation could finally come to an end this summer.

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