Definitions

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

  • n. Infliction of severe physical pain as a means of punishment or coercion.
  • n. An instrument or a method for inflicting such pain.
  • n. Excruciating physical or mental pain; agony: the torture of waiting in suspense.
  • n. Something causing severe pain or anguish.
  • transitive v. To subject (a person or an animal) to torture.
  • transitive v. To bring great physical or mental pain upon (another). See Synonyms at afflict.
  • transitive v. To twist or turn abnormally; distort: torture a rule to make it fit a case.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. Intentional causing of somebody's experiencing agony.
  • n. The "suffering of the heart" imposed by one on another, as in personal relationships.
  • v. To intentionally inflict severe pain or suffering on (someone).

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. Extreme pain; anguish of body or mind; pang; agony; torment.
  • n. Especially, severe pain inflicted judicially, either as punishment for a crime, or for the purpose of extorting a confession from an accused person, as by water or fire, by the boot or thumbkin, or by the rack or wheel.
  • n. The act or process of torturing.
  • transitive v. To put to torture; to pain extremely; to harass; to vex.
  • transitive v. To punish with torture; to put to the rack.
  • transitive v. To wrest from the proper meaning; to distort.
  • transitive v. To keep on the stretch, as a bow.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. The act of inflicting severe pain as a punishment, as a means of persuasion, or in revenge; specifically, the act of inflicting such pain under the orders of a court of justice, royal commission, ecclesiastical organization, or other legal or self-constituted judge or authority, especially as a supposed means of extorting the truth from an accused person or as a commutative punishment (also called specifically judicial torture); the pain so inflicted.
  • n. In general, the act, operation, or process of inflicting excruciating pain, physical or mental.
  • n. Excruciating pain; extreme anguish of body or mind; agony; anguish; torment.
  • n. Synonyms Agony, Anguish, Pang, etc. See agony and list under pang.
  • To inflict severe pain upon; pain extremely; torment bodily or mentally.
  • To punish with torture; put to the torture.
  • To wrest from the natural position or state; especially, in a figurative sense, to distort; pervert; torment.
  • To pull out; stretch; strain.

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

  • n. intense feelings of suffering; acute mental or physical pain
  • n. the deliberate, systematic, or wanton infliction of physical or mental suffering by one or more persons in an attempt to force another person to yield information or to make a confession or for any other reason
  • v. torment emotionally or mentally
  • n. unbearable physical pain
  • v. subject to torture
  • n. extreme mental distress
  • n. the act of distorting something so it seems to mean something it was not intended to mean

Etymologies

Middle English, from Old French, from Late Latin tortūra, from Latin tortus, past participle of torquēre, to twist; see terkw- in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Late Latin tortura ("a twisting, wreathing, of bodily pain, a griping colic, Middle Latin pain inflicted by judicial or ecclesiastical authority as a means of persuasion, torture"), from Latin tortus, past participle of torquere ("to twist"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • VIEW FAVORITES yahooBuzzArticleHeadline = 'Bush declares: \'We do not torture\' '; yahooBuzzArticleSummary =' Bush supported an effort spearheaded by Vice President Dick Cheney to block or modify a proposed Senate-passed ban on torture ...

    OpEdNews - Quicklink: Bush declares: 'We do not torture'

  • After many nights of torture, this jacket, at my urgent and repeated request, was finally adjusted in such manner that, had it been so adjusted at first, I need not have suffered any _torture_ at all.

    A Mind That Found Itself An Autobiography

  • * Generals say crucial reports did not mention torture* "Ludicrous" to say most detainees abused - general By David LjunggrenOTTAWA, Nov 25 (Reuters) - Two former Canadian military commanders on Wednesday denied accusations they had ignored warnings that Afghan authorities might torture and abuse detainees handed over to them.

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  • VIEW FAVORITES yahooBuzzArticleHeadline = 'Same people defending torture\' ignored 9/11 warnings - Larisa Alexandrovna '; yahooBuzzArticleSummary ='"the very same people who are out defending torture as a necessary tool in their falsely constructed" war on terror "are the very same people who had the intelligence to stop the 9/11 attacks literally delivered to them and did nothing.

    OpEdNews - Quicklink: Same people defending torture' ignored 9/11 warnings- Larisa Alexandrovna

  • The frantic reich-wing effort to implicate Obama in torture is a tiny ray of hope.

    Matthew Yglesias » What Happened to Petraeus for President?

  • So, nothing on the fact that Nancy Pelsoi, whose alleged involvement in torture is supposed to prevent her from pushing for investigations and prosecutions, is now urging investigations and prosecutions?

    Matthew Yglesias » Conservatives’ Unhinged Attacks on Nancy Pelosi

  • The word torture here encompasses the acts of violence of a feared internal security apparatus that numbered from three thousand to five thousand, with paid informants pushing it to perhaps sixty thousand strong.60 Amnesty International noted in its 1974–75 report: “The Shah of Iran retains his benevolent image despite the highest rate of death penalties in the world, no valid system of civilian courts, and a history of torture that is beyond belief.”

    Let the Swords Encircle Me

  • The way people throw around the term torture, it has a very strict legal test.

    CNN Transcript Aug 25, 2009

  • Please note what the President did not say: He did not say (1) that we Americans do not engage in torture, (2) that torture is immoral, (3) that international and U.S. law does not permit it, or (4) that even if the law permitted it, which it does not, we would not engage in it.

    Balkinization

  • The Times should use the term "torture" more directly, using it on first reference when the discussion is about - and there's no other word for it - torture.

    The Full Feed from HuffingtonPost.com

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