AskDefine | Define tortuous

Dictionary Definition

tortuous adj
1 highly involved or intricate; "the Byzantine tax structure"; "convoluted legal language"; "convoluted reasoning"; "intricate needlework"; "an intricate labyrinth of refined phraseology"; "the plot was too involved"; "a knotty problem"; "got his way by labyrinthine maneuvering"; "Oh, what a tangled web we weave"- Sir Walter Scott; "tortuous legal procedures"; "tortuous negotiations lasting for months" [syn: Byzantine, convoluted, intricate, involved, knotty, labyrinthine, tangled]
2 marked by repeated turns and bends; "a tortuous road up the mountain"; "winding roads are full of surprises"; "had to steer the car down a twisty track" [syn: twisting, twisty, winding]
3 not straightforward; "his tortuous reasoning"

User Contributed Dictionary



  • (UK) /ˈtɔːʧuəs/, /"tO:tSu@s/
  • (US) /ˈtɔɹʧuəs/, /"tOrtSu@s/


  1. Twisted; having many turns; convoluted.
    • 2007 October 6, “Slogging on the Home Front”, editorial in The New York Times,
      It still takes almost half a year for the average veteran’s claim for disability benefits to be decided in a tortuous process that can involve four separate hearings.

Usage notes

  • This term has strongly negative connotations, perhaps transferred from the similar-sounding adjective torturous.


Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

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