- 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.
ordeal definition by Webster's New World
- 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 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 plush an unverified form dailjan ; from an unverified form dails, a part, share
ordeal definition by American Heritage Dictionary
- 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.