American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition
- n. A difficult or painful experience, especially one that severely tests character or endurance. See Synonyms at trial.
- n. A method of trial in which the accused was subjected to physically painful or dangerous tests, the result being regarded as a divine judgment of guilt or innocence.
Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
- n. A form of trial to determine guilt or innocence, formerly practised in Europe, and still in parts of the East and by various savage tribes. It consisted in testing the effect of fire, water, poison, etc., upon the accused. Well-known fire-ordeals in England were the handling of red-hot irons, or the walking over heated plowshares. A common form of the water-ordeal was the casting of the accused into water: he was considered innocent if he sank, guilty if he floated. The practice of “ducking witches” is a survival of this water-ordeal, and the phrase “to go through fire and water” probably alludes to those customs. These ordeals were abolished in England in the reign of Henry III., but the wager of battle remained. The ordeal of poison-water is common in Africa; that of burning candles, in Burma; that of eating rice, in Siam, etc.
- n. A severe trial; trying circumstances; a severe test of courage, endurance, patience, etc.
- n. Synonyms Proof, experiment, touchstone.
- Pertaining to trial by ordeal.
- n. A painful or trying experience.
- n. A trial in which the accused was subjected to a dangerous test (such as ducking in water), divine authority deciding the guilt of the accused.
GNU Webster's 1913
- n. An ancient form of test to determine guilt or innocence, by appealing to a supernatural decision, -- once common in Europe, and still practiced in the East and by savage tribes.
- n. Any severe trial, or test; a painful experience.
- adj. Of or pertaining to trial by ordeal.
- n. a severe or trying experience
- n. a primitive method of determining a person's guilt or innocence by subjecting the accused person to dangerous or painful tests believed to be under divine control; escape was usually taken as a sign of innocence
- From Middle English *ordel, ordal, from Old English ordēl, ordāl ("ordeal, judgement"), from Proto-Germanic *uzdailaz (“judgement”, literally "an out-dealing"), equivalent to or- + deal. Cognate with West Frisian oardiel ("judgement"), Dutch oordeel ("judgement, discretion"), German Urteil ("judgement, verdict"). (Wiktionary)
- Alteration (influenced by deal1) of Middle English ordal, trial by ordeal, from Old English ordāl. (American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
“However, the largest crime in this ordeal is the response of the people who act as if they are so crushed by his actions.”
“Now, looking back on the past few tumultuous years, he can glean a glimmer of satisfaction from what he calls his ordeal by humiliation.”
“What happens to Harry after his ordeal is over should be left to the imagination of the reader.”
“The entire ordeal is influenced by the coal lobby on one side and anti-nuclear forces on the other ... but simply streamlining nuclear licensing while prohibiting coal for municipal power will cost nothing and reduce emissions with none of this emissions trading beurocracy that seems to be more and more popular.”
“How these two, and the other 31 miners, will be changed by their ordeal is something friends and psychologists are grappling to understand.”
“Agence France-Presse/Getty Images Trapped Chilean miners 'letters suggest their ordeal is changing them.”
“The oddest part of the whole ordeal is that despite this original usage, there's an affirmation of Christ's presence in the communities of the Reformation without an affirmation of their catholicity.”
“Otherwise, I am not even watching the daily reruns on cable of "Grey's Anatomy" -- my own body and midstream ordeal is swallowing the lion's share of my focus right now, and as Stuart Smalley would say, "That's okay.”
“John Wilson, whose ordeal is outlined in thise case study, told Guardian Money about his six-month court battle against fare-evasion charges, following a run-in with a "revenue protection officer", AKA "revenue protection inspector" – a ticket inspector in simple terms.”
“The 65-day ordeal is the longest time that workers trapped in a mining accident have survived underground.”
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