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

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 Success is already elusive enough for the 15 franchises in what has been pilloried as the Leastern Conference going back almost as far as Michael Jordan’s second retirement from the Chicago Bulls in 1998. Marc Stein, New York Times, "Finally Free From LeBron’s Reign, the N.B.A. East Has No Reason to Change," 5 July 2018 By contrast, Gallego, who faces no Republican challenger this year in his safely Democratic district, uses two accounts to blast out edgy messages often pillorying the Trump administration and Republicans generally. Ronald J. Hansen, azcentral, "Twitter purge hits John McCain, Ruben Gallego most among Arizona politicos," 12 July 2018 There is one tech behemoth whose workers have stayed oddly quiet, even as it has been pilloried by outsiders for everything from its privacy practices to its effect on democratic elections to its role in ethnic violence around the world. Casey Newton, The Verge, "A looming strike over Project Dragonfly is putting new pressure on Google," 30 Nov. 2018 Led by Kemp’s four RBIs, the offense pilloried Philadelphia starter Zach Eflin, but Stripling did not require much backing. Andy Mccullough, latimes.com, "Matt Kemp puts on offensive show in Dodgers' 8-2 win over the Phillies," 31 May 2018 After Democrats and the media pilloried Mr. Bush for his risky retirement plan scheme, the public’s disapproval of his handling of Social Security soared. WSJ, "Trump Retirement Accounts Face Obstacles," 7 Nov. 2018 Harris and Kouvelas-Edick say they've been pilloried by their neighbors. Lily Altavena, azcentral, "Waiting for state sober living home rules, cities add their own restrictions," 7 July 2018 The move to help its employees go to college looks good for a company that has been pilloried over the years for its low wages, lack of room for career growth, and stingy benefits. Adam Harris, The Atlantic, "Why Walmart Is Paying for Its Employees to Go to College," 30 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.

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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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