One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1A painful or horrific experience, especially a protracted one.‘the ordeal of having to give evidence’
painful experience, unpleasant experience, trial, tribulation, test, nightmare, trauma, baptism of fire, hell, hell on earth, misery, trouble, difficulty, torture, torment, agonyView synonyms
- ‘But she said Dr Williams remained in good spirits despite the ordeal of the hearing.’
- ‘Support from other abuse victims and the police had helped her to cope with the ordeal of the trial, she said.’
- ‘The alternative would have been to put their children through the ordeal of a possible court case.’
- ‘All but the most ardent rodent fanciers would consider this a highly unpleasant ordeal.’
- ‘She believes young pupils should not have to go through the ordeal of a formal examination.’
- ‘Staff morale must be sapped by the ordeal of coping with crisis conditions day after day.’
- ‘The ordeal of one of the families, the Pancars from Turkey, began seven years before.’
- ‘Most were more than willing to talk about the ordeal of the last few days.’
- ‘During the trial the McNeils put their victims through the ordeal of giving evidence.’
- ‘At least the ordeal of yet another defeat was over sooner than expected.’
- ‘The boy, who was conscious throughout the ordeal, suffered fractures to his left leg and a broken nose.’
- ‘As if the ordeal of a trial were not bad enough, he and Dolores must now face an arguably worse fate.’
- ‘The ordeal of being mugged is scary enough without being left to feel as though you're on your own and helpless.’
- ‘Throughout the ordeal of recent months, Darius has clearly drawn strength from his family.’
- ‘The ordeal of the bereaved families is a sobering reminder to ministers.’
- ‘This is the voice of Eamon's sister who dared to speak about the ordeal of her younger brother.’
- ‘As a consequence he forced the families through the ordeal of the trial.’
- ‘The judge gave him credit for pleading guilty which spared the girl the ordeal of attending court.’
- ‘No one experienced the ordeal of those first few years more acutely than his first wife, Linda.’
- ‘Clients will have the chance to speak to others who have suffered similar ordeals.’
2historical An ancient test of guilt or innocence by subjection of the accused to severe pain, survival of which was taken as divine proof of innocence.
- ‘Those presented might then be put to the ordeal to ascertain their guilt or innocence.’
- ‘If he still maintained his innocence, he was able to decide between two ordeals: water or iron.’
- ‘As a result, ordeals were replaced by trials by juries.’
Old English ordāl, ordēl, of Germanic origin; related to German urteilen ‘give judgement’, from a base meaning ‘share out’. The word is not found in Middle English (except once in Chaucer's Troilus); modern use of ordeal (sense 2) began in the late 16th century, whence ordeal (sense 1) (mid 17th century).
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