Definition of ordeal
- ordeal by fire
- ordeal by water
- Being trapped in an elevator was a harrowing ordeal for the shoppers.
the hikers were finally rescued after a three-day ordeal in the wilderness
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.
: an experience that is very unpleasant or difficult
What made you want to look up ordeal? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).
Merriam-Webster's New Words Quiz—Fall 2017 Edition!
Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!TAKE THE QUIZ
Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.TAKE THE QUIZ