from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A torture device for fingers and toes.


Sorry, no etymologies found.


  • She sobs as she paces, horrible images of that poor, wonderful girl lying in a rack, her hands bulging purple in iron pilliwinks.

    The Hunger


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  • Gory Detail:

    The thumbscrew, or pilliwinks, is a torture instrument which was used in medieval Europe. It is a simple vise, sometimes with protruding studs on the interior surfaces. The victim's thumbs or fingers were placed in the vise and slowly crushed. The thumbscrew was also applied to crush prisoners' toes, while larger, heavier devices based on the same design principle were applied to destroy knees and elbows.

    January 18, 2009

  • Awww. How cute. Or not.

    January 24, 2008

  • also known as thumbikins.

    January 24, 2008

  • an old instrument of torture similar to the thumbscrew

    February 27, 2007