from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun A difficult or painful experience, especially one that severely tests character or endurance. synonym: trial.
  • noun A method of trial in which the accused was subjected to pain or danger as a means of invoking God's intercession, with the outcome regarded as revealing a divine determination of guilt or innocence.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun 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.
  • noun A severe trial; trying circumstances; a severe test of courage, endurance, patience, etc.
  • noun Synonyms Proof, experiment, touchstone.
  • Pertaining to trial by ordeal.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • adjective Of or pertaining to trial by ordeal.
  • noun 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.
  • noun Any severe trial, or test; a painful experience.
  • noun (Bot.) See Calabar bean, under Calabar.
  • noun (Bot.) the root of a species of Strychnos growing in West Africa, used, like the ordeal bean, in trials for witchcraft.
  • noun (Bot.) a poisonous tree of Madagascar (Tanghinia venenata syn. Cerbera venenata). Persons suspected of crime are forced to eat the seeds of the plumlike fruit, and criminals are put to death by being pricked with a lance dipped in the juice of the seeds.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun A painful or trying experience.
  • noun 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.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • noun a severe or trying experience
  • noun 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 The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Alteration (influenced by deal) of Middle English ordal, trial by ordeal, from Old English ordāl; see dail- in Indo-European roots.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

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").


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  • Severe or painful trial as expierence

    July 8, 2014