I was watching the Vampire Diaries series and in episode 20 of season 4, Damon says:

How hungry does she have to be before we can torture some feelings back into her?

I can't get the grammar of this sentence! Is torture something back into someone a phrase? Would you please explain it?

  • 2
    torture has been “verbed” here.
    – Jim
    Aug 20, 2022 at 5:37
  • It is not torture back but back into her as in: The feelings have gone missing and to bring back at least pain we could use torture.
    – TaW
    Aug 20, 2022 at 14:04
  • 1
    @Jim - to torture is a verb.
    – user81561
    Aug 20, 2022 at 16:19

2 Answers 2


It means bring some feelings back into her by torture. Basically he says that only by torture she can be forced to become human again.

Torture is a noun used as a verb here, and this is called verbing. Verbing can be informal and very handy in speech. With one word you say many:

  • She was marmalading a scone with Chivers Rough Cut.
    (Martha Grimes, The Lamorna Wink. Viking, 1999)
    (instead of spreading marmalade on)
  • I like your verbs that are things. I think I'm gonna sandwich after I sofa here for a bit.
    (My Boys, 2007)
    (instead of have a sandwich and lounge on the sofa)

Another ELU question, Which nouns can be used as verbs?, will give you plenty of insight too.

  • 2
    Agreed. Before google was a verb it was a noun. This is the same sort of thing.
    – Maths Barry
    Aug 20, 2022 at 9:47

"To torture" is used here in the same way as "beat" in "I will beat some sense into you."

To this extent, "to torture [something] back [into her]" is not different from "I will put the gun back into the holster."

To put back in this sense = to return to its original/usual place.

"to torture some feelings back into her" - to torture her in order to return her feelings to their original/usual place.

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