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Meaning of ORDEAL

Pronunciation:  or'deel

WordNet Dictionary
[n]  a severe or trying experience

ORDEAL is a 6 letter word that starts with O.


 See Also: experience



Webster's 1913 Dictionary
  1. \Or"de*al\ ([^o]r"d[-e]*al), n. [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
    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, or 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.
  2. \Or"de*al\, a.
    Of or pertaining to trial by ordeal.
 Definition: a painful and possibly life-threatening test inflicted on someone suspected of a wrongdoing.
Thesaurus Terms
 Related Terms: acid test, adversity, affliction, anguish, assay, blank determination, brouillon, calvary, criterion, cross, crucial test, crucible, determination, disaster, distress, docimasy, essay, feeling out, fiery ordeal, first draft, ghost dance, grief, hardship, kiteflying, magic circle, misery, misfortune, nightmare, ordeal by battle, probation, proof, rough draft, rough sketch, Sabbat, sounding out, standard, suffering, test, test case, touchstone, tragedy, trial, trials and tribulations, tribulation, tribulations, troubles, try, verification, visitation