- 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.
- 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 of ordealMiddle English ordal ; from Old English 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 + an unverified form dailjan ; from an unverified form dails, a part, share
- 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 pain or danger as a means of invoking God's intercession, with the outcome regarded as revealing a divine determination of guilt or innocence.
Origin of ordealAlteration (influenced by deal1) of Middle English ordal, trial by ordeal, from Old English ordāl; see dail- in Indo-European roots.
From Middle English *ordel, ordal, from Old English ordēl, ordāl (“ordeal, judgement”), from Proto-Germanic *uzdailaz (“judgement”, literally “an out-dealing”), equivalent to or- + deal. Cognate with West Frisian oardiel (“judgement”), Dutch oordeel (“judgement, discretion”), German Urteil (“judgement, verdict”).