Illuminating another tortuous etymology

Torch, as it turns out, is most likely related to torture et al. We got the word in the Middle English period from Old French torche. This word, in turn, is assumed (because of cognates in the other Romance languages like Sp. antorcha) to have come from a late vulgar Latin *torca, which would have come from familiar old classical torquere, “to twist”. The reference would be to the way they made torches – by twisting rags or tow dipped in pitch or oil around a stick.

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