or·​deal | \ ȯr-ˈdē(-ə)l How to pronounce ordeal (audio) , ˈȯr-ˌdē(-ə)l \

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.

Synonyms for ordeal


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Examples of ordeal in a Sentence

the hikers were finally rescued after a three-day ordeal in the wilderness
Recent Examples on the Web And as the story of Durant’s ordeal in Somalia was featured across the national media – including the picture of his bloodied face when he was captured appearing on newsmagazine covers – his sister was telling her own. Howard Koplowitz | Hkoplowitz@al.com, al, 15 May 2022 Ohta’s ordeal seemed to illustrate a larger, ongoing predicament: To conserve resources, the city’s dispatch center frequently stops sending officers to all but the most urgent calls for service. Rachel Swan, San Francisco Chronicle, 11 May 2022 Erin's caption explains the frightening ordeal and Ben's reaction and credits her neighborhood and security officers for protecting them from danger. Katie Bowlby, Country Living, 7 May 2022 In her book, Spears offers a chilling account of the harrowing ordeal and Maddie's unbelievable recovery. Nicholas Rice, PEOPLE.com, 5 May 2022 Meanwhile, your series dives more into how this ordeal affected the family members. Katcy Stephan, Variety, 5 May 2022 Fellow judges Luke Bryan — who laughed maniacally during Perry’s ordeal — and Lionel Richie helped her back into her seat. Starr Bowenbank, Billboard, 2 May 2022 As of Sunday, visitors to Italy also no longer have to fill out the EU passenger locator form, a complicated online ordeal required at airport check-in. Fox News, 1 May 2022 As of Sunday, visitors to Italy also no longer have to fill out the EU passenger locator form, a complicated online ordeal required at airport check-in. Nicole Winfield, ajc, 1 May 2022 See More

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.

First Known Use of ordeal

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for ordeal

Middle English ordal, from Old English ordāl; akin to Old High German urteil judgment, Old English dāl division — more at deal entry 3

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Time Traveler for ordeal

Time Traveler

The first known use of ordeal was before the 12th century

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Dictionary Entries Near ordeal



ordeal bark

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Statistics for ordeal

Last Updated

22 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Ordeal.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ordeal. Accessed 28 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for ordeal


or·​deal | \ ȯr-ˈdēl How to pronounce ordeal (audio) \

Kids Definition of ordeal

: a severe test or experience

More from Merriam-Webster on ordeal

Nglish: Translation of ordeal for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of ordeal for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about ordeal


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