Winding/tortuous

Rémy Elmursal

Senior Member
French
Hello to everyone,

I would like to describe (in the framework of a scientific article) an interface between two zones clearly distinct on a metallographic cross-section.
In one case, the interface is straight and clear, which is not difficult to describe, but in another case, the interface is very clear as well, but it looks like the course of a stream or a river seen from above.

Here are two attempts :
However, in several cases, when the cooling was fast enough, the shape of the metal-oxide interface is not straight but deformed and tortuous.
However, in several cases, when the cooling was fast enough, the shape of the metal-oxide interface is not straight but winding.

I am not sure I chose the best word. I also found these words that would may be be used as well :

Can you tell me which would be the more natural and easily understood.

Thank you so much.
 
  • Wordnip

    Senior Member
    British English
    You could use 'deformed and twisting' if that fits the appearance. Twisting suggests a winding or sinuous deformity in three dimensions, which may not be apt.
     

    Kwistax

    Senior Member
    français - Belgique
    The way I view it, a "broken" line is not necessarily interrupted, it can just have random angles.
    or "changing", "fluctuating"...?
     

    Cagey

    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    The way I view it, a "broken" line is not necessarily interrupted, it can just have random angles.
    ....
    Broken does mean 'interrupted' in English, though perhaps the French equivalent does not.
    broken
    (adj.)
    5. interrupted or disconnected:a broken line.

    (From Wordreference's Random House Learner's Dictionary of American English.)
     

    Biffo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Rémy Elmursal - My guess is 'convoluted' but it is difficult to guess without seeing it. Do you have a picture?
     

    dharasty

    Senior Member
    American English
    If you are intending to describe this feature to a non-technical audience, I would suggest "meandering", as I think the path of a meandering river is well known.

    I agree with Wordnip that that "twisting" connotes the three-dimensional spiral as found in strands in a rope; or weave of ropes in a braid; or the double helix strand of DNA. (Then again, if you told me a road was "twisting" I wouldn't take that meaning. But since you are describing something I haven't seen, that's what "twisting" means to me.)

    As for the word "tortuous" (twisted; having many turns; convoluted) -- I have to say I think I have a pretty good vocabulary, and I was unfamiliar with that word until I read this thread. I initially misread it as "torturous" (of or pertaining to torture)... which would be unusual to use to describe meandering lines! So unless you are confident your audience is very familiar with the difference between "tortuous" and "torturous", I might advise another word.
     
    Last edited:

    221BBaker

    Senior Member
    Spanish (Canarian) & Catalan
    I agree meandering would fit what you described. Another synonym with technical implications would be sinuous, which also implies turns, curves and, of course, sinuosities.
     

    Beryl from Northallerton

    Senior Member
    British English
    'Tortuous' is one of those 'often-used' words in science contexts (as are latent, lustrous, ductile, tensile, motile, stochastic, and turgor), and is often used to describe the path of particles through cloud chambers. I don't think it would present a problem for those with a scientific background.
     

    dharasty

    Senior Member
    American English
    OK, I've learned a new word. (Actually, three, as I can now add "motile" and "turgor".)

    It sounds like we agree that use of "tortuous" is dependent on the intended audience for the work.
     

    Kwistax

    Senior Member
    français - Belgique
    Broken does mean 'interrupted' in English, though perhaps the French equivalent does not.
    broken
    (adj.)
    5. interrupted or disconnected:a broken line.

    (From Wordreference's Random House Learner's Dictionary of American English.)
    mmh, I trust you since English is your mother tongue ;)
    However, I think the expression "broken line graph" does exist and it precisely describes what I mean: a line with many angles that make it change direction every time.
     

    dharasty

    Senior Member
    American English
    I think the expression "broken line graph" does exist and it precisely describes what I mean: a line with many angles that make it change direction every time.
    A "broken" does not mean "jagged"; it means "discontinuous": ink, no ink, ink, no ink.

    When it comes to lines, "broken" is a synonym for "dashed". A "broken" line can be straight: here are broken straight lines.

    If a line is not "broken", it is usually called "solid".

    A line with lots of sharp angles might be called "jagged". Here is a solid jagged line.

    And two images for my new vocabulary word "tortuous": a roller coaster and a road.
     

    Kwistax

    Senior Member
    français - Belgique
    Ok thank you! On a side note, in French, you can definitely say "broken" (cassé) for "jagged" (denté).
    On a second side note, "tortuous" also have his equivalent in French (tortueux); both come from Latin "tortus" which means "curve", "bend".
     
    < Previous | Next >
    Top