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Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Stuart's Daily Word Spot: Tortuous or torturous?

London Underground roundel logoImage via Wikipedia
Tortuous or torturous?
Tortuous: adjective - full of twists or turns; twisted, sinuous or winding; not direct or straightforward; devious, circuitous.

Torturous: adjective - characterized by or involving torture; tormenting, excruciating; figuratively - violently twisted or distorted; perverted.

The use of 'torturous' in place of 'tortuous', although more common these days, is the result of a misunderstanding of the real meanings of these two words and should be avoided.

'The delta of the Mississippi is full of tortuous distributaries, carrying the waters over the flat land to the sea.'

'The tattoo on Jodisa's leg led a tortuous path from her ankle to the place all men desired to enter.' (That's a reference to the epic fantasy I'm writing.)

'For Sandra, being with Michael was a torturous experience, making her wince with his every advance and clumsy fumble.'

'The inmates of the foreign prison were subject to torturous treatment, which left many of them unable to stand unaided.'

A tortuous experience winds around; a torturous one causes pain.

4 October 1911 If you use the London Underground and travel via Earls Court, you might like to know the first escalator opened there and is now 100 years old. I suspect they’ve updated it since it was first installed, though.
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