Definitions

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

  • noun A wooden framework on a post, with holes for the head and hands, in which offenders were formerly locked to be exposed to public scorn as punishment.
  • transitive verb To expose to ridicule and abuse.
  • transitive verb To put in a pillory as punishment.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun A frame of wood erected on a post or pole, with movable boards resembling those in the stocks, and holes through which were put the head and hands of an offender, who was thus exposed to public derision.
  • To punish by exposure in the pillory.
  • Hence Figuratively, to expose to ridicule, contempt, abuse, and the like.

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

  • transitive verb To set in, or punish with, the pillory.
  • transitive verb Figuratively, to expose to public scorn.
  • noun A frame of adjustable boards erected on a post, and having holes through which the head and hands of an offender were thrust so as to be exposed in front of it.

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

  • noun A framework on a post, with holes for the hands and head, used as a means of punishment and humiliation.
  • verb transitive To put in a pillory.
  • verb transitive To subject to humiliation, scorn, ridicule or abuse.
  • verb transitive To criticize harshly.

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

  • noun a wooden instrument of punishment on a post with holes for the wrists and neck; offenders were locked in and so exposed to public scorn
  • verb punish by putting in a pillory
  • verb expose to ridicule or public scorn
  • verb criticize harshly or violently

Etymologies

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Middle English, from Old French pilori, probably from Latin pīla, pillar.]

Examples

  • I do not like to stand on your what you call pillory --- it is very bad way to take de air, I think; and I do not like your prisons no more, where one cannot take de air at all. ''

    The Antiquary

  • "Den, gentlemens, I shall take my leave of you, dat is all; I do not like to stand on your what you call pillory -- it is very bad way to take de air, I think; and I do not like your prisons no more, where one cannot take de air at all."

    The Antiquary — Volume 02

  • "Den, gentlemens, I shall take my leave of you, dat is all; I do not like to stand on your what you call pillory -- it is very bad way to take de air, I think; and I do not like your prisons no more, where one cannot take de air at all."

    The Antiquary — Complete

  • “Den, gentlemens, I shall take my leave of you, dat is all; I do not like to stand on your what you call pillory — it is very bad way to take de air, I think; and I do not like your prisons no more, where one cannot take de air at all.”

    The Antiquary

  • There is a piece of business to be transacted between writer and reader before any further dealings are possible, and to be reminded in the middle of this private interview that Defoe sold stockings, had brown hair, and was stood in the pillory is a distraction and a worry.

    The Common Reader, Second Series

  • Be that as it might, the scaffold of the pillory was a point of view that revealed to Hester Prynne the entire track along which she had been treading, since her happy infancy.

    The Scarlet Letter

  • For a man in the pillory was a fitting object for laughter and rude jests.

    English Literature for Boys and Girls

  • Exposure in the pillory was a favourite prescription, a kind of judicial panacea, to which all sorts of the morally infirm were introduced in turn.

    The Customs of Old England

  • Be that as it might, the scaffold of the pillory was a point of view that revealed to Hester Prynne the entire track along which she had been treading, since her happy infancy.

    II. The Market-Place

  • The furious controversies of that age, in which the stake, the prison, and the pillory were the popular theological arguments, produced a characteristic effect on his sympathies.

    Hours in a Library, Volume I. (of III.)

Comments

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  • I had never heard this word until today, 28 Aug 2007, in a headline about the Greek gov't. being pilloried due to the rampant fires raging across the region in Greece.

    August 28, 2007

  • Wow! I'm curious, what did you think those things you see in movies are called...you know, where people were locked up with their head and hands exposed to the public (and which were used by same for target practice!)? Or had you never seen such a movie scene?

    August 28, 2007

  • Stocks? Just sayin'... :-)

    August 28, 2007

  • Let's legalize the use of the pillory then start to sell rotten tomatoes. It's a sure fire money maker.

    December 3, 2008

  • Dr. Summers was pilloried for even suggesting the idea, and the critics took up his challenge to refute the hypothesis.

    June 9, 2010