- The definition of an ordeal is a very severe test, trial or difficult or painful experience.
An example of ordeal is an extensive and long surgical procedure.
Undergoing surgery would be an ordeal.Licensed from iStockPhoto
- an ancient method of trial in which the accused was exposed to physical dangers, from which he or she was supposed to be divinely protected if innocent
- any difficult, painful, or trying experience; severe trial
Origin: Middle English ordal from OE, akin to German urteil, judgment from West Germanic an unverified form uzdailjo-, what is dealt out from an unverified form uzdailjan, to deal out, allot, adjudge from an unverified form uz-, out plush an unverified form dailjan from an unverified form dails, a part, share
Used by arrangement with John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
- A difficult or painful experience, especially one that severely tests character or endurance. See Synonyms at trial.
- A method of trial in which the accused was subjected to physically painful or dangerous tests, the result being regarded as a divine judgment of guilt or innocence.
Origin: Alteration (influenced by deal1) of Middle English ordal, trial by ordeal, from Old English ordāl; see dail- in Indo-European roots.