A distortion is a change, twist, or exaggeration that makes something appear different from the way it really is. You can distort an image, a thought, or even an idea. To say that I never take out the garbage is a distortion of the facts.

The heat from the highway creates a distortion in the way objects in the distance appear: They wiggle and dance. The heat creates a wavy distortion in the air that shakes up the image of the things beyond it. Things are the way they are: to change them is to distort them or to create a distortion. Some guitar players prefer distortion: they plug their instrument into amps and pedals that twist and stretch the sound so much that you might not even recognize its source as a guitar.

Definitions of distortion

n a shape resulting from distortion

distorted shape
contortion, crookedness, torsion, tortuosity, tortuousness
a tortuous and twisted shape or position
buckle, warp
a shape distorted by twisting or folding
gnarl, knot
something twisted and tight and swollen
Type of:
form, shape
the spatial arrangement of something as distinct from its substance

n the act of distorting something so it seems to mean something it was not intended to mean

overrefinement, straining, torture, twisting
Type of:
falsification, misrepresentation
a willful perversion of facts

n a change for the worse

warp, warping
a moral or mental distortion
Type of:
damage, harm, impairment
the occurrence of a change for the worse

n an optical phenomenon resulting from the failure of a lens or mirror to produce a good image

aberration, optical aberration
chromatic aberration
an optical aberration in which the image has colored fringes
spherical aberration
an optical aberration resulting in a distorted image
Type of:
optical phenomenon
a physical phenomenon related to or involving light

n a change (usually undesired) in the waveform of an acoustic or analog electrical signal; the difference between two measurements of a signal (as between the input and output signal)

“heavy metal guitar players use vacuum tube amplifiers to produce extreme distortion
amplitude distortion, nonlinear distortion
distortion that occurs when the output signal does not have a linear relation to the input signal
Type of:
acoustic phenomenon
a physical phenomenon associated with the production or transmission of sound
electrical phenomenon
a physical phenomenon involving electricity

n the mistake of misrepresenting the facts

Type of:
error, fault, mistake
a wrong action attributable to bad judgment or ignorance or inattention