ordeal

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noun or·deal \ȯr-ˈdē(-ə)l, ˈȯr-ˌdē(-ə)l\

Definition of ordeal

  1. 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. 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>

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


First Known Use: before 12th century


ORDEAL Defined for English Language Learners

ordeal

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noun or·deal \ȯr-ˈdē(-ə)l, ˈȯr-ˌdē(-ə)l\

Definition of ordeal for English Language Learners

  • : an experience that is very unpleasant or difficult


ORDEAL Defined for Kids

ordeal

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noun or·deal \ȯr-ˈdēl\

Definition of ordeal for Students

  1. :  a severe test or experience



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