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Ordeal

3 definitions found

From The Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.48 [gcide]:

Ordeal \Or"de*al\ ([^o]r"d[-e]*al), noun [AS. ord[=a]l, ord[=ae]l, a judgment; akin to D. oordeel, G. urteil, urtheil; orig., what is dealt out, the prefix or- being akin to [=a]- compounded with verbs, G. er-, ur-, Goth. us-, orig. meaning, out. See {Deal}, v. & n., and cf. {Arise}, {Ort}.]

1. 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.

Note: In England ordeal by fire and ordeal by water were used, the former confined to persons of rank, the latter to the common people. The ordeal by fire was performed, either by handling red-hot iron, or by walking barefoot and blindfold over red-hot plowshares, laid at unequal distances. If the person escaped unhurt, he was adjudged innocent; otherwise he was condemned as guilty. The ordeal by water was performed, either by plunging the bare arm to the elbow in boiling water, an escape from injury being taken as proof of innocence, or by casting the accused person, bound hand and foot, into a river or pond, when if he floated it was an evidence of guilt, but if he sunk he was acquitted. It is probable that the proverbial phrase, to go through fire and water, denoting severe trial or danger, is derived from the ordeal. See {Wager of battle}, under {Wager}.

2. Any severe trial, or test; a painful experience.

{Ordeal bean}. (Bot.) See {Calabar bean}, under {Calabar}.

{Ordeal root} (Bot.) the root of a species of {Strychnos} growing in West Africa, used, like the ordeal bean, in trials for witchcraft.

{Ordeal tree} (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 The Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.48 [gcide]:

Ordeal \Or"de*al\, adjective Of or pertaining to trial by ordeal.

From WordNet (r) 3.0 (2006) [wn]:

ordeal

noun

1: a severe or trying experience

2: 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 [syn: {ordeal}, {trial by ordeal}]

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Definitions retrieved from the Open Source DICT Webster's English and WordNet 3.0 dictionaries. Click here for database copyright information.

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