To contort something is to bend or twist it out of its original shape. Faces are often said to contort with one particular emotion or another.

In general contort refers to something that is fairly adaptable and can return to its previous shape. A face, after it has contorted with rage, for example, will return to its normal expression (unless you've done something really bad.). If you bend or twist your sister's doll, you "break it" rather than "contort it."

Definitions of contort
  1. verb
    twist and press out of shape
    synonyms: deform, distort, wring
    wrench, wring
    twist and compress, as if in pain or anguish
    twist, squeeze, or compress in order to extract liquid
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    change shape as via computer animation
    type of:
    distort, twine, twist
    form into a spiral shape
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