Definition of tortuous in English:

tortuous

adjective

  • 1Full of twists and turns.

    ‘the route is remote and tortuous’
    • ‘Long, heavily calcified stenoses in tortuous vessels or at bifurcations and chronic total occlusions are less suitable.’
    • ‘A barium enema showed a narrowed, tortuous sigmoid colon with multiple diverticuli and thickening of the bowel wall.’
    • ‘The splenic vein is not invested in a common sheath with the artery - it is retropancreatic and never tortuous.’
    • ‘Neither fascicles of smooth muscle cells nor thick-walled tortuous blood vessels were present.’
    • ‘An aneurysm expands laterally with systole while a tortuous aorta does not.’
    • ‘The campaign is a long, sometimes tortuous period of time and these qualities help everyone not just survive, but thrive.’
    • ‘He was as tortuous and convoluted as a monkey puzzle tree.’
    • ‘But that proved only the beginning of a long and tortuous road full of false starts and broken promises.’
    • ‘These veins are tortuous and bulky, making it virtually impossible to identify the spinal arteries.’
    • ‘Babies born at 25 weeks and less are at high risk of death, a long, tortuous journey through life, and disability.’
    • ‘The vessels appear enlarged and tortuous, especially the venous capillaries.’
    • ‘Eventually, after a particularly tortuous twist, the path opened out and they came to the Cave of the Prophet.’
    • ‘Varicose veins are tortuous, twisted, or lengthened veins.’
    • ‘It is perhaps all the more dangerous, more labyrinthine, and more tortuous for this reason.’
    • ‘It allows us to insert tortuous vessels where flexibility is very important.’
    • ‘The common carotid artery sometimes follows a very tortuous course, forming one or more distinct loops in the neck.’
    • ‘The nanofiller also creates a tortuous path for the penetration of gaseous vapors and liquids into the polymer.’
    • ‘The Ryder Cup trail has often been tortuous, twisting and downright tedious, but the rewards to the Scottish economy are expected to be enormous.’
    • ‘They all appear enlarged and have a tortuous course, especially the capillary veins.’
    • ‘Several tortuous hypertrophic nerve bundles were also embedded in the fibrous tissue.’
    twisting, winding, curving, curvy, bending, sinuous, undulating, coiling, looping, meandering, serpentine, snaking, snaky, zigzag, convoluted, spiralling, twisty, circuitous, rambling, wandering, indirect, deviating, devious, labyrinthine, mazy
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    1. 1.1 Excessively lengthy and complex.
      ‘a tortuous argument’
      • ‘His style, too, is often tortuous and gnomic, and it can be almost impossible to see what he actually means, as the endless discussions of his analysis of the causes of the war show.’
      • ‘The classification of tropical karst is highly complex, with a tortuous terminology derived from several languages.’
      • ‘The plot complications are tortuous, their resolutions unsatisfying and the characters thin.’
      • ‘In fact, the argument here is not so tortuous as many to be found amongst the post-modernists.’
      • ‘They thus engage in a tortuous argument to show that it really wasn't about what the protesters said it was.’
      • ‘Paine was careful to contrast the tortuous twists of theology with the pure clarity of deism.’
      • ‘We had countless tortuous internal meetings to prioritize and slog through the full set of 500 items.’
      • ‘Your writings over the past few years have been enormously important as a source of orientation through the tortuous twists and turns of imperialist strategy.’
      • ‘Its rulers could not have been that lethargic, or its diplomacy so tortuous, for it to have survived for such a long period.’
      • ‘Yes, I know that it's still hard to know what exactly Bertie says or what he means or what the sum of his winding sentences and tortuous paragraphs amount to.’
      • ‘Instead of destroying their sculptures, managers have to hand their work over to a different group to complete - a tortuous experience.’
      • ‘Then, after tortuous negotiations, the sale fell through.’
      • ‘The route to publication was long and occasionally tortuous, with considerable argument with editors and peer reviewers.’
      • ‘The latest meander in this tortuous saga was the concern raised that when the road is finally in place that people would have to pay a toll to use it.’
      • ‘We have been following a sometimes tortuous path through a maze of arguments and definitions.’
      • ‘So it's a very complicated, very complex and tortuous process that we're going through legally here.’
      • ‘The second Presidential Address is similar, though to a modern eye the arguments are even more tortuous.’
      • ‘Instead, Brown has treated us to a tortuous, Jesuitical argument so self-contradictory it merits its own reprimand.’
      • ‘But where does the inquiry go from here after the tortuous and lengthy taking of the evidence?’
      • ‘I think long sentences, tortuous sentences, sentences which are unnecessarily full of abstractions.’
      convoluted, roundabout, circuitous, indirect, unstraightforward, involved, complicated, complex, confusing, lengthy, overlong, verbose, difficult to follow
      View synonyms

Usage

The two words tortuous and torturous have different core meanings. Tortuous means ‘full of twists and turns’, as in a tortuous route. Torturous means ‘involving or causing torture’, as in a torturous five days of fitness training. In extended senses, however, tortuous is used to mean ‘excessively lengthy and complex’ and hence may become indistinguishable from torturous: something which is tortuous is often also torturous, as in a tortuous piece of bureaucratic language; their way had been tortuous and very difficult. The overlap in sense has led to tortuous being sometimes used interchangeably with torturous, as in he would at last draw in a tortuous gasp of air

Origin

Late Middle English: via Old French from Latin tortuosus, from tortus ‘twisting, a twist’, from Latin torquere ‘to twist’.

Pronunciation

tortuous

/ˈtɔːtʃʊəs//ˈtɔːtjʊəs/