pillory

noun
pil·lo·ry | \ˈpi-lə-rē, ˈpil-rē\
plural pillories

Definition of pillory 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a device formerly used for publicly punishing offenders consisting of a wooden frame with holes in which the head and hands can be locked

2 : a means for exposing one to public scorn or ridicule

pillory

verb
pilloried; pillorying

Definition of pillory (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to set in a pillory as punishment

2 : to expose to public contempt, ridicule, or scorn

Illustration of pillory

Illustration of pillory

Noun

pillory 1

In the meaning defined above

Keep scrolling for more

Did You Know?

Noun

In days gone by, criminals who got caught might well have found themselves in the stocks (which held the feet or both feet and hands) or a pillory. Both of those forms of punishment - and the words that name them - have been around since the Middle Ages. We latched onto "pillory" from the Anglo-French pilori (which has the same meaning as our English term), but the exact origins of the French term are uncertain. For centuries, "pillory" referred only to the wooden frame used to hold a ne'er-do-well, but by the early 1600s, folks had turned the word into a verb for the act of putting someone in a pillory. Within a century, they had further expanded the verb to cover any process that led to as much public humiliation as being pilloried.

Examples of pillory in a Sentence

Verb

The press pilloried the judge for her decision.

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The right will disdain you; the left will pillory you. Andrew Sullivan, Daily Intelligencer, "If We Want to End the Border Crisis, It’s Time to Give Trump His Wall," 22 June 2018 The media pilloried Reagan’s antimissile research program, the Strategic Defense Initiative. Roger Kimball, WSJ, "When Reagan Met Lenin," 30 May 2018 Shaw played in United’s most recent match, a 2-0 FA Cup quarter-final victory over Brighton on March 17, but was substituted at half-time and then pilloried by Mourinho afterwards. Mike Whalley, chicagotribune.com, "Mourinho laments 'sad' Ibrahimovic exit from European soccer," 30 Mar. 2018 Kirstjen Nielsen is a lying bleep that she'd be put in a cage and poked at by passersby, the bleep should be pilloried in Lafayette Square naked, whipped by passerby while being filmed for posterity. Fox News, "Gorka: Suddenly the left care about minorities and children?," 21 June 2018 Look at WeWork, which gets pilloried by much of the press for being overvalued and overhyped (even while investors bet millions on its growth). Patrick Sisson, Curbed, "Can tech outsmart the housing shortage?," 29 May 2018 Syria has been wracked by civil war since 2011 and its president, Bashar al-Assad, pilloried by some for terrorizing his own people. Drew Broach, NOLA.com, "3 Louisiana congressmen back Syrian missile strikes and refugee ban," 24 Apr. 2018 By the time Trump reversed his policy Wednesday, Nielsen had been both yelled at and praised by Trump and pilloried for repeating his falsehoods. Washington Post, "‘Great job,’ says Trump: Nielsen back in good graces for now," 21 June 2018 In 2015, actress Jessica Alba's Honest Company was sued and widely pilloried for claims about a number of products, including sunscreen consumers claimed didn't work. Jayne O'donnell, USA TODAY, "You're going to get burned if you take so-called natural sunscreen capsules, FDA warns," 22 May 2018

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

See More

First Known Use of pillory

Noun

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Verb

circa 1600, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for pillory

Noun

Middle English, from Anglo-French pilori

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about pillory

Listen to Our Podcast about pillory

Statistics for pillory

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for pillory

The first known use of pillory was in the 13th century

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for pillory

pillory

noun

English Language Learners Definition of pillory

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a device that was used in the past for punishing someone in public and that consists of a wooden frame with holes in which the head and hands can be locked

pillory

verb

English Language Learners Definition of pillory (Entry 2 of 2)

: to publicly criticize (someone) in a very harsh way

pillory

noun
pil·lo·ry | \ˈpi-lə-rē \
plural pillories

Kids Definition of pillory

: a device once used for punishing someone in public consisting of a wooden frame with holes in which the head and hands can be locked

More from Merriam-Webster on pillory

Spanish Central: Translation of pillory

Nglish: Translation of pillory for Spanish Speakers

Comments on pillory

What made you want to look up pillory? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

a generally accepted meaning of a word

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Great Scrabble Words—A Quiz

  • scrabble-tiles-that-read-scrabble-quiz
  • Which of the following Q-without-U words means the number five in cards or dice?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!