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torture (n.)

early 15c., "contortion, twisting, distortion; a disorder characterized by contortion," from Old French torture "infliction of great pain; great pain, agony" (12c.), and directly from Late Latin tortura "a twisting, writhing," in Medieval Latin "pain inflicted by judicial or ecclesiastical authority as a means of punishment or persuasion," from stem of Latin torquere "to twist, turn, wind, wring, distort" (from PIE root *terkw- "to twist").

The meaning "infliction of severe bodily pain as a means of punishment or persuasion" in English is from 1550s. The theory behind judicial torture was that a guilty person could be made to confess, but an innocent one could not, by this means. Macaulay writes that it was last inflicted in England in May 1640.

torture (v.)

1580s, from torture (n.). Related: Tortured; torturing.

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Definitions of torture from WordNet
1
torture (n.)
extreme mental distress;
Synonyms: anguish / torment
torture (n.)
unbearable physical pain;
Synonyms: torment
torture (n.)
intense feelings of suffering; acute mental or physical pain;
Synonyms: agony / torment
torture (n.)
the act of distorting something so it seems to mean something it was not intended to mean;
Synonyms: distortion / overrefinement / straining / twisting
torture (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;
Synonyms: torturing
2
torture (v.)
torment emotionally or mentally;
Synonyms: torment / excruciate / rack
torture (v.)
subject to torture;
Synonyms: excruciate / torment
From wordnet.princeton.edu