pillory

noun
pil·​lo·​ry | \ ˈpi-lə-rē How to pronounce pillory (audio) , 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

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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

Last week Carlos Maza, a reporter for Vox.com, pilloried YouTube for refusing to take down videos by Steven Crowder, a conservative YouTuber who had mocked him using homophobic slurs. The Economist, "The unacknowledged legislators of the online world," 14 June 2019 After he was taken to a clinic and a Moscow doctor close to Putin pronounced him fit, the doctor was pilloried on social media. Neil Macfarquhar, BostonGlobe.com, "Reporter’s arrest sets off widespread protests in Russia," 10 June 2019 Like the American press, British Europhiles immediately pilloried Leavers as racist for wanting to control their own immigration laws, though the immigrants to whom EU membership was germane were preponderantly white. Lionel Shriver, Harper's magazine, "No Exit," 10 Apr. 2019 Drug companies frequently have been pilloried for not fully disclosing negative side effects of their drugs. Author: Christopher Rowland, Anchorage Daily News, "Pfizer had clues its blockbuster drug could prevent Alzheimer’s. Why didn’t it tell the world?," 5 June 2019 His actions have been widely pilloried since the Feb. 14, 2018, attack at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, which ended with 17 students and staffers killed. Mark Berman, Washington Post, "Former Broward sheriff’s deputy who did not confront Parkland shooter arrested, charged with neglect," 5 June 2019 His actions have been widely pilloried since the Feb. 14, 2018, attack at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School that killed 17 people. The Washington Post, The Mercury News, "Ex-deputy charged for Parkland shooting inaction," 4 June 2019 The device’s release was reportedly delayed for several months in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, in which Facebook was pilloried for failing to put strict controls on data shared with third-party developers. Dan Seifert, The Verge, "Facebook Portal review: trust fail," 8 Nov. 2018 The scholarly work that D'Souza (and Woodward) pilloried in the early 90's has stood the test of time. Zack Beauchamp, Vox, "A historian explains how mainstream conservatives made Trump," 13 Aug. 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.

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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

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Time Traveler for pillory

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

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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 How to pronounce pillory (audio) \
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

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More from Merriam-Webster on pillory

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for pillory

Spanish Central: Translation of pillory

Nglish: Translation of pillory for Spanish Speakers

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