ordeal

noun or·deal \ ȯr-ˈdē(-ə)l , ˈȯr-ˌdē(-ə)l \
Updated on: 10 Nov 2017

Definition of ordeal

1 : a primitive means used to determine guilt or innocence by submitting the accused to dangerous or painful tests believed to be under supernatural control
  • ordeal by fire
  • ordeal by water
2 : a severe trial or experience
  • Being trapped in an elevator was a harrowing ordeal for the shoppers.

Examples of ordeal in a Sentence

  1. the hikers were finally rescued after a three-day ordeal in the wilderness

Recent Examples of ordeal from the Web

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'ordeal.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Origin and Etymology of ordeal

Middle English ordal, from Old English ordāl; akin to Old High German urteil judgment, Old English dāl division — more at deal


ORDEAL Defined for English Language Learners

ordeal

noun

Definition of ordeal for English Language Learners

  • : an experience that is very unpleasant or difficult


ORDEAL Defined for Kids

ordeal

noun or·deal \ ȯr-ˈdēl \

Definition of ordeal for Students

: a severe test or experience


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