PURGA'TION, n. [L. purgatio. See Purge.]1. The act or operation of cleansing or purifying by separating and carrying off impurities or whatever is superfluous; applied to the body; as,the bowels are cleansed by purgation. So also in pharmacy and in chimistry, medicines, metals and minerals are purified by purgation.2. In law, the act of cleansing from a crime, accusation or suspicion of guilt. This was canonical or vulgar. Canonical purgation, prescribed by the canon law, was performed before the bishop or his deputy, and by a jury of twelve clerks. The party accused first made oath to his own innocence,and then the twelve clerks or compurgators swore that they believed he spoke the truth; after which, other witnesses were examined upon oath, on behalf of the prisoner only. Vulgar purgation was performed by the ordeal of fire or water, or by combat. [See Ordeal.]
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