Torrid, Torpid, and Turgid

English is confusing. Pronunciations aren’t consistent, spellings are a crapshoot, synonyms run rampant.

And today, we’ve got three words that sound very similar, but mean very different things:




I get these three mixed up. Maybe you do, too.

Let’s see if we can explain.

torrid – hot, burning, passionate

“Torrid” means hot in a literal sense, like fire. It also means hot like a passionate love affair. Either way, it’s intense.

Like this:


Next up: only one letter off, but very different.

torpid – sluggish, apathetic

“Torpid” means sleepy, lazy, I-don’t-care. Now, what picture could I use…?

Ah yes.


Nobody does torpid like Garfield.

And our final word:

turgid – swollen, inflated, pompous

Again, this can mean literally swollen, like a bug bite. But it can also refer to style. A book can be turgid if it has a self-important, pretentious, inflated kind of writing.

And who’s more self-important, inflated, turgid than the Wizard of Oz?


So: torrid, torpid, and turgid.

Any questions?


6 responses to “Torrid, Torpid, and Turgid

  1. One of the many great things about the Chicago Manual of Style website (which is not free) is a page called “Good usage versus common usage,” which covers a lot of these types of words. Ability, capability, capacity. Adverse & averse. And, of course, the always popular “affect” and “effect.”

    And that’s just a few of the ones under the letter “a.” I could spend hours there.

  2. I think you will enjoy this if you haven’t seen it already. English is a weird language.

  3. What is the difference between Turgid and Tumid?

  4. This helped a lot. Thanks!

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