(noun) A painful or dangerous method of trial controlled by supernatural forces that proves a person’s guilt or innocence through divine judgement in which survival or degree of injury typically indicates innocence.

Example: Bisha’a, a ritual ordeal to determine if a person is lying used by some Bedouin tribes. Judgement is based on a person licking a hot metal object three times in which a burnt tongue is an indication of a person’s guilt.

Audio Pronunciation: (or·deal)

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Usage Notes:

  • Plural: ordeals
  • Also called trial by ordeal.

Related Terms:

Works Consulted

Abercrombie, Nicholas, Stephen Hill, and Bryan Turner. 2006. The Penguin Dictionary of Sociology. 5th ed. London: Penguin.

The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language. 5th ed. 2011. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Macmillan. (N.d.) Macmillan Dictionary. (https://www.macmillandictionary.com/).

Merriam-Webster. (N.d.) Merriam-Webster Dictionary. (http://www.merriam-webster.com/).

Oxford University Press. (N.d.) Oxford Dictionaries. (https://www.oxforddictionaries.com/).

Princeton University. 2010. WordNet. (https://wordnet.princeton.edu/).

Random House Webster’s College Dictionary. 1997. New York: Random House.

Wikipedia contributors. (N.d.) Wiktionary, The Free Dictionary. Wikimedia Foundation. (http://en.wiktionary.org).

How to Cite the Definition of Ordeal

ASA – American Sociological Association (5th edition)

Bell, Kenton, ed. 2014. “ordeal.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Retrieved May 19, 2019 (http://sociologydictionary.org/ordeal/).

APA – American Psychological Association (6th edition)

ordeal. (2014). In K. Bell (Ed.), Open education sociology dictionary. Retrieved from http://sociologydictionary.org/ordeal/

Chicago/Turabian: Author-Date – Chicago Manual of Style (16th edition)

Bell, Kenton, ed. 2014. “ordeal.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Accessed May 19, 2019. http://sociologydictionary.org/ordeal/.

MLA – Modern Language Association (7th edition)

“ordeal.” Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Ed. Kenton Bell. 2014. Web. 19 May. 2019. <http://sociologydictionary.org/ordeal/>.