Definitions

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. The morsel of execration; an ordeal consisting of the eating of a piece of bread consecrated by imprecation. If the suspected person ate it freely, he was pronounced innocent; but if it stuck in his throat, it was considered as a proof of his guilt.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. The morsel of execration; a species of ordeal consisting in the eating of a piece of bread consecrated by imprecation. If the suspected person ate it freely, he was pronounced innocent; but if it stuck in his throat, it was considered as a proof of his guilt.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. In Anglo-Saxon law, the morsel of choosing or selection, being a piece of bread consecrated by exorcism and caused to be swallowed by a suspected person as a trial of his innocence.

Etymologies

Anglo-Saxon. (Wiktionary)

Examples

Comments

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  • Now this really is a curio. Fascinating ... and fun to envision a kind of red Leicester depth charge sanctified as polygraph.

    July 28, 2008

  • In old English law, this was the name for "ordeal by swallowing a piece of bread or cheese." If it stuck in the throat, that proved guilt. The morsel was "consecrated by exorcism" and was known as panis coniuratus (sworn bread).

    "Corsned or morsel of execration: being a piece of cheese or bread, of about an ounce in weight, which was consecrated with a form of exorcism; desiring of the Almighty that it might cause convulsions and paleness, and find no passage, if the man was really guilty; but might turn to health and nourishment, if he was innocent." (Sir William Blackstone: Commentaries, 1769)

    July 28, 2008