Definition of torment in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈtôrment/
1Severe physical or mental suffering: their deaths have left both families in torment
More example sentences
  • It is a perilous journey into the unknown, with little or no guidance, mental torment and physical pain at every turn, and an uncertain outcome.
  • Ministers who believe in an eternal mental and physical torment are much thicker on the ground in the Highlands and Islands and on the west coast of the mainland.
  • Gloucester undergoes physical and mental torment because he makes the same mistake that Lear does.
agony, suffering, torture, pain, anguish, misery, distress, affliction, trauma, wretchedness;
hell, purgatory
1.1A cause of suffering: the journey must have been a torment for them
More example sentences
  • He has a brace too, and obviously sees me as a fellow sufferer of orthodontic torments with whom he can generally commiserate and complain to about not having had toffee in eighteen months.
  • Andersen set these cruel torments in the wider context of a Christian allegory about suffering and redemption.
  • Under these pressures and the additional torments of yellow fever, all the veneers of civilization peel away and ‘the brutishness of primeval man burst forth.’
ordeal, affliction, scourge, curse, plague, bane, thorn in someone's side/flesh, cross to bear;
sorrow, tribulation, trouble


Pronunciation: /tôrˈment/
[with object]
1Cause to experience severe mental or physical suffering: he was tormented by jealousy
More example sentences
  • This is someone else who is unable to fit in, because he suffers from tinnitus, tormented by sounds inside his head - leading to an awe-inspiring exorcism scene.
  • On his journey, he endures numerous physical hardships and is tormented with many psychological dilemmas.
  • Now reflect that all these sentient beings, although they naturally desire happiness and wish to avoid suffering, are tormented by unimaginable sufferings.
torture, afflict, rack, harrow, plague, haunt, bedevil, distress, agonize
1.1Annoy or provoke in a deliberately unkind way: every day I have kids tormenting me because they know I live alone
More example sentences
  • Unfortunately, in spite of some progress, many of these kids are still tormented and teased.
  • Some are described as mischievous or ‘cheeky’ and like to annoy and torment people by taking things away or hiding them.
  • I only tell you this to assure you that many Mac people are near and dear to me and I would never do anything intentionally to taunt, tease or torment any of you.
tease, taunt, bait, harass, provoke, goad, plague, bother, trouble, persecute
informal needle



Pronunciation: /tôrˈmentədlē/
Example sentences
  • These works are fuel for the imagination; ‘The Source’ is like a vision of hell, with small, scratched out figures tormentedly toiling at the behest of their larger, scratched out masters.
  • It was his inaction which led to Ann marrying Rothermere, but after the war they slowly and tormentedly realised their mistake, if that is what it was, and married in 1952.
  • The tone quality was exceptional, and his voice went from lyrical to tormentedly fractured within a phrase.


Pronunciation: /tôrˈmen(t)iNGlē/
Example sentences
  • Slowly, tormentingly, William's growing, love-gorged narcissism finally drives Emily away.
  • The river rises to swallow everything around, its rise painfully, tormentingly gradual like a torturous, emaciating death.
  • He was tormentingly tense and uneasy, and at the same time felt an extraordinary need for solitude.


Middle English (as both noun and verb referring to the infliction or suffering of torture): from Old French torment (noun), tormenter (verb), from Latin tormentum 'instrument of torture', from torquere 'to twist'.

  • torch from Middle English:

    A torch in the original sense of ‘something soaked in an inflammable substance used to give light’ was often made of twisted hemp or other fibres. This is still the American meaning, and reflects the word's Latin origin, torquere ‘to twist’. Only in British English can torch describe a battery-powered electric lamp, which Americans call a flashlight. A torch song is a sad or sentimental song of unrequited love, whose name, used since the 1920s, comes from the phrase carry a torch for, ‘to love someone who does not love you in return’. The image in pass on the torch, ‘to pass on a tradition, especially one of learning or enlightenment’, is that of the runners in a relay race passing on the torch to each other, as was the custom in the ancient Greek Olympic Games. The Latin source of torch, torquere, is found in a large number of other English words. Most obviously it is the source of the engineer's torque (late 19th century), and the twisted Celtic neck-ring the torc (mid 19th century). Less obviously it is in contort (Late Middle English) ‘twist together’; distort (Late Middle English) ‘twist out of shape’; extort (early 16th century) ‘twist out of’; and retort (Late Middle English) ‘to twist back’ (the chemical apparatus gets its name from its twisted shape). Tortura ‘twisting, torment’ the Latin noun formed from the verb gives us torture and tortuous (both LME), and torment (Middle English). Thwart (Middle English) is an Old Norse word that goes back to the same Indo-European root.

Words that rhyme with torment

absent, accent, anent, ascent, assent, augment, bent, cement, cent, circumvent, consent, content, dent, event, extent, ferment, foment, forewent, forwent, frequent, gent, Ghent, Gwent, lament, leant, lent, meant, misrepresent, misspent, outwent, pent, percent, pigment, rent, scent, segment, sent, spent, stent, Stoke-on-Trent, Tashkent, tent, Trent, underspent, underwent, vent, went

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: tor·ment

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