Etymology
Advertisement
torment (n.)

c. 1300, "the inflicting of torture," also "state of great suffering, pain, distress," from Old French torment "torture, pain, anguish, suffering distress" (11c., Modern French tourment), from Latin tormentum "twisted cord, sling; clothes-press; instrument for hurling stones," also "instrument of torture, a rack," figuratively "anguish, pain, torment," from torquere "to twist" (from PIE root *terkw- "to twist").

Related entries & more 
Advertisement
torment (v.)

c. 1300, "inflict torture on, distress," from Old French tormenter "torture, torment, oppress, agitate" (12c.), from Medieval Latin tormentare "to torment, to twist," from Latin tormentum "twisted cord, sling; clothes-press; instrument for hurling stones," also "instrument of torture, a rack," figuratively "anguish, pain, torment," from torquere "to twist" (from PIE root *terkw- "to twist"). Related: Tormented; tormenting.

Related entries & more 
tormentor (n.)

c. 1300, from Anglo-French tormentour, Old French tormenteor "torturer," agent noun from tormenter "to torture" (see torment (v.)).

Related entries & more 
*terkw- 

Proto-Indo-European root meaning "to twist."

It forms all or part of: contort; distort; extort; extortion; nasturtium; queer; retort; thwart; torch; torment; torque (n.) "rotating force;" torsion; tort; torticollis; tortuous; torture; truss.

It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Sanskrit tarkuh "spindle;" Latin torquere "to twist;" Old Church Slavonic traku "band, girdle;" Old High German drahsil "turner," German drechseln "to turn on a lathe;" Old Norse þvert "across," Old English þweorh "transverse, perverse, angry, cross," Gothic þwairhs "angry."

Related entries & more 
excruciate (v.)

"to torture, torment, inflict very severe pain on," as if by crucifying, 1560s, from Latin excruciatus, past participle of excruciare "to torture, torment, rack, plague;" figuratively "to afflict, harass, vex, torment," from ex "out, out from; thoroughly" (see ex-) + cruciare "cause pain or anguish to," literally "crucify," from crux (genitive crucis) "a cross" (see crux).

Related entries & more 
Advertisement
quale (n.)

an obsolete word for "death; a plague; a murrain," Middle English, from Old English cwalu "slaughter, destruction," cognate with Old Norse kval "torment, torture," from a variant of the root of quell.

Related entries & more 
quell (v.)

Middle English quellen "to kill" (a person or animal), from Old English cwellan "to kill, cause to die; murder, execute," from Proto-Germanic *kwaljanan (source also of Old English cwelan "to die," cwalu "violent death;" Old Saxon quellian "to torture, kill;" Old Norse kvelja "to torment;" Middle Dutch quelen "to vex, tease, torment;" Old High German quellan "to suffer pain," German quälen "to torment, torture"), from PIE root *gwele- "to throw, reach," with extended sense "to pierce."

The original sense is obsolete; the milder sense of "suppress, extinguish, cause to cease," developed by c. 1300; that of "reduce to peace or subjection" is by 1560s. Compare quail (v.). "The common identification of quell with kill (1), of which it is said to be the earlier form, is erroneous" [Century Dictionary]. Related: Quelled; quelling.

Related entries & more 
kill (v.)

c. 1200, "to strike, hit, beat, knock;" c. 1300, "to deprive of life, put to death;" perhaps from an unrecorded variant of Old English cwellan "to kill, murder, execute," from Proto-Germanic *kwaljanan (source also of Old English cwelan "to die," cwalu "violent death;" Old Saxon quellian "to torture, kill;" Old Norse kvelja "to torment;" Middle Dutch quelen "to vex, tease, torment;" Old High German quellan "to suffer pain," German quälen "to torment, torture"), from PIE root *gwele- "to throw, reach," with extended sense "to pierce." Related: Killed; killing.

The meaning "to nullify or neutralize the qualities of" is attested from 1610s. Of time, from 1728; of engines, from 1886; of lights, from 1934. Kill-devil, colloquial for "rum," especially if new or of bad quality, is from 1630s. Dressed to kill is first attested 1818 in a letter of Keats (compare killing (adj.) in the sense "overpowering, fascinating, attractive").

Related entries & more 
hellfire (n.)

also hell-fire, "the fire of Hell, eternal torment," from Old English hellefyr, in which helle is the genitive case of hell. It translates Greek gehenna tou pyros, literally "hell of fire." Also used in Middle English for "erysipelas" (mid-15c.).

Related entries & more 
anguish (v.)

mid-14c., angwisshen, intransitive and reflexive ("be troubled or distressed; feel agony") and transitive ("cause grief, distress,or torment"); from Old French angoissier (12c., Modern French angoisser), from angoisse "distress, anxiety, rage" (see anguish (n.)). Related: Anguished; anguishing.

Related entries & more