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Afflict vs Try vs Torment vs Torture vs Rack

Afflict, Try, Torment, Torture and Rack mean to inflict upon a person something which he finds hard to bear. Something or someone that causes pain, disability, suffering, acute annoyance, irritation, or embarrassment may be said to afflict a person.

  • afflicted with heart disease
  • blindness afflicts many aged persons
  • she is afflicted with shyness
  • he who afflicts me knows what I can bear

An affliction or a person or thing that imposes a strain upon one’s physical or spiritual powers of endurance or tests one’s stamina or self-control may be said to try a person, his body, his soul, or his character.

  • a trying situation
  • his trying temper
  • the great heat of the sun and the heat of hard labor . . . try the body and weaken the digestion

An affliction or a person or thing that persecutes and causes continued or repeated acute suffering or annoyance may be said to torment one Recurrent stomach pains torment him.

  • other epochs had been tormented by the misery of existence and the terror of the unknown
  • the horses are tormented by flies
  • the older boys . . . bullied and tormented and corrupted the younger boys
    H.G. Wells

An affliction or a person or thing that severely torments one physically or mentally and causes pain or suffering under which one writhes may be said to torture one.

  • torture prisoners of war
  • an idea of what a pulsating sciatica can do in the way of torturing its victim
  • the unseen grief that swells with silence in the tortured soul

A person or, especially, a thing (often a painful emotion or disease) that pulls or seems to pull one this way and that beyond endurance and in a manner suggestive of the excruciating straining and wrenching of the body on the rack, an ancient instrument of torture, may be said to rack a person.

  • racked with pain
  • he is racked by doubts of his friend’s loyalty
  • vaunting aloud, but racked with deep despair
  • how on earth can you rack and harry . . . a man for his losings, when you are fond of his wife, and live in the same station with him?