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 Dictionary entry overview: What does tortuous mean? 

TORTUOUS (adjective)
  The adjective TORTUOUS has 3 senses:

1. highly complex or intricate
2. marked by repeated turns and bends
3. not straightforward

  Familiarity information: TORTUOUS used as an adjective is uncommon.

 Dictionary entry details 

TORTUOUS (adjective)

Sense 1tortuous [BACK TO TOP]


Highly complex or intricate


tortuous; convoluted; tangled; knotty; Byzantine; involved

Context examples:

the Byzantine tax structure / convoluted legal language / convoluted reasoning / the plot was too involved / a knotty problem / got his way by labyrinthine maneuvering / Oh, what a tangled web we weave / tortuous legal procedures / tortuous negotiations lasting for months


complex (complicated in structure; consisting of interconnected parts)

Sense 2tortuous [BACK TO TOP]


Marked by repeated turns and bends


twisty; winding; twisting; voluminous; tortuous

Context examples:

a tortuous road up the mountain / winding roads are full of surprises / had to steer the car down a twisty track


crooked (having or marked by bends or angles; not straight or aligned)

Sense 3tortuous [BACK TO TOP]


Not straightforward

Context example:

his tortuous reasoning


indirect (extended senses; not direct in manner or language or behavior or action)

 Learn English with... Proverbs of the week 
"The third time someone tries to put a saddle on you, you should admit you're a horse." (English proverb)

"In death, I am born." (Native American proverb, Hopi)

"Measure seven times, cut once." (Armenian proverb)

"He who puts off something will lose it." (Corsican proverb)

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