From Wiktionary, the free dictionary
Jump to navigation Jump to search



From convolute +‎ -d.[1]


  • (Received Pronunciation) IPA(key): /ˌkɒnvəˈl(j)uːtɪd/, /ˈkɒnvəl(j)uːtɪd/, /-vəʊ-/
  • (General American) IPA(key): /ˌkɑnvəˈlutəd/, /ˈkɑnvəˌlutəd/, [-ɾəd]
  • (file)
  • Hyphenation: con‧vo‧lut‧ed


convoluted (comparative more convoluted, superlative most convoluted)

  1. (chiefly anatomy, zoology) Having numerous overlapping coils or folds; convolute.
    Synonyms: (biology, geology) meandrine, obvolute, torquated, tortuous
    Antonym: unconvoluted
    • 1683 April 20, Edward Tyson, “Lumbricus Latus, or a Discourse Read before the Royal Society of the Joynted Worm, []”, in Philosophical Transactions. Giving Some Accompt of the Present Undertakings, Studies and Labours of the Ingenious in Many Considerable Parts of the World, volume XIII, number 146, Oxford: Printed at the Theater, and are to be sold by Moses Pit [], and Samuel Smith [], →OCLC, page 130:
      [B]y the means of theſe hooks, and Spikes it [a tapeworm in the intestines] might faſten it ſelf, and ſo prevent it's too eaſy ejection out of the body. For it being ſo very long, and large too, and it's body in many places winding, and convoluted, the deſcent of the fæces upon all occaſions would be apt to carry it out with them; had it not this hold, [...]
    • 1754, John Hill, “ANGUILLA, the Eel”, in Urania: Or, A Compleat View of the Heavens; Containing the Antient and Modern Astronomy, in the Form of a Dictionary: [], London: Printed for T. Gardner, [], →OCLC:
      The figure [of the constellation Anguilla] is that of the common eel in that convoluted ſtate in which it is uſually ſeen when in motion.
    • 1822, William P[aul] C[rillon] Barton, “Listera convallarioides”, in A Flora of North America. [], volume II, Philadelphia, Pa.: H[enry] C[harles] Carey & I[saac] Lea [], →OCLC, page 8:
      Petals five, generally reflected, the three exterior ovate, hollowed; the two interior longer and convoluted.
    • 1831 March 31, George Brettingham Sowerby, “Ammonites”, in Number XXXIV. [...] of the Genera of Recent and Fossil Shells, for the Use of Students in Conchology and Geology, London: G. B. Sowerby, [], →OCLC:
      Among the various fossil shells which abound in the secondary beds, and which are not known in a recent state, one of the most remarkable and numerous is the Genus Ammonites, commonly called Cornu Ammonis from its resemblance to the convoluted horn generally represented on the head of Jupiter Ammon in mythological history. [...] This Genus, which consists of discoid, convoluted, chambered shells with contiguous volutions, the margins of whose septa are lobated and sinuous, and whose siphunculus is dorsal, is very nearly related to Nautilus, [...]
    • 1904 January 29 – October 7, Joseph Conrad, chapter VII, in Nostromo: A Tale of the Seaboard, London, New York, N.Y.: Harper & Brothers [], published 1904, →OCLC, part third (The Lighthouse), page 347:
      The great mass of cloud filling the head of the gulf had long red smears amongst its convoluted folds of grey and black, as of a floating mantle stained with blood.
    • 1989, Roger Penrose, “Real Brains and Model Brains”, in The Emperor’s New Mind: Concerning Computers, Minds and The Laws of Physics, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, →ISBN; paperback edition, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, 1999, →ISBN, page 483:
      Closer examination, however, begins to reveal the brain as having a much more intricate structure and sophisticated organization [...]. The large convoluted (and most porridge-like) portion on top is referred to as the cerebrum.
    • 1999, “Make Me a Molecule”, in Nina Hall, editor, The Age of the Molecule, London: Royal Society of Chemistry, →ISBN, page 14:
      Everyone is familiar with the Hollywood cliche of the 'mad scientist' crouching over convoluted glassware in which fuming green liquids bubble away.
  2. (figuratively) Complex, complicated, or intricate.
    Synonyms: see Thesaurus:complex
    Antonym: unconvoluted
    He gave a convoluted explanation that amounted to little more than a weak excuse for his absence.
    • 1836, R[obert] Walsh, chapter IV, in A Residence at Constantinople, during a Period Including the Commencement, Progress, and Termination of the Greek and Turkish Revolutions: [...] Two Volumes, volume II, London: Frederick Westley and A. H. Davis, [], →OCLC, pages 90–91:
      There is a convoluted cypher which designates the name and titles of the Sultan, contained in a single complicated figure, which is seen on the coins of the empire, and on all public edifices.
    • [1839?], Robert Walsh, “Guzel-Hissar, and the Plain of the Meander. Asia Minor.”, in Constantinople and the Scenery of the Seven Churches of Asia Minor Illustrated. [], volume II, London, Liverpool: Peter Jackson, late Fisher, Son, & Co. [], →OCLC, pages 26–27:
      The river Meander [now the Büyük Menderes River] is perhaps the most celebrated of all antiquity, and has been made a generic term, in most languages, to designate a winding stream; [...] It afforded Dædalus the model for his labyrinth, and travellers have discovered in many parts the various accurate outlines of some of the most convoluted letters of the Greek alphabet.
    • 1999, Keith Soothill, “Foreword”, in Herschel Prins, Will They Do it Again?: Risk Assessment and Management in Criminal Justice and Psychiatry, London, New York, N.Y.: Routledge, →ISBN, page xi:
      [H]e [Herschel Prins] has a very special talent for making convoluted and tortured topics clear. Clarity rarely enhances one's academic reputation, for there is little left to argue about. Clarity, however, appeals to readers, for they can begin to understand a subject which the experts have begun to claim.
    • 2018 July 25, A. A. Dowd, “Fallout may be the Most Breathlessly Intense Mission: Impossible Adventure Yet”, in The A.V. Club[1], archived from the original on 31 July 2018:
      The plots of Mission: Impossible movies tend to be convoluted but negligible, really only there to provide connective tissue between jaw-dropping set pieces.

Derived terms[edit]

Related terms[edit]




  1. simple past and past participle of convolute


  1. ^ convoluted, adj.”, in OED Online Paid subscription required, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, 1893; “convoluted, adj.”, in Lexico,; Oxford University Press, 2019–2022.