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In my view, the Christian religion is the most important and one of the first things in which all children, under a free government ought to be instructed... No truth is more evident to my mind than that the Christian religion must be the basis of any government intended to secure the rights and privileges of a free people.
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1828 Noah Webster Dictionary
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1828.mshaffer.comWord [ordeal]

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ordeal

OR'DEAL, n. [The last syllable is deal, to divide or distribute. The sense of the prefix is less obvious. But the real sense is not obvious. The practice of ordeal however seems to have had its origin in the belief that the substances used had each its particular presiding deity that had perfect control over it.]

1. An ancient form of trial to determine guilt or innocence, practiced by the rude nations of Europe, and still practiced in the East Indies. In England, the ordeal was of two sorts, fire-ordeal and water-ordeal; the former being confined to persons of higher rank, the latter to the common people. Both might be performed by deputy, but the principal was to answer for the success of the trial.

Fire-ordeal was performed either by taking in the hand a piece of red hot iron, or by walking barefoot and blindfold over nine red hot plowshares laid lengthwise at unequal distances; and if the person escapes unhurt, he was adjudged innocent, otherwise he was condemned as guilty.

Water-ordeal was performed, either by plunging the bare arm to the elbow in boiling water, or by casting the person suspected into a river or pond of cold water and if he floated without an effort to swim, it was an evidence of guilt, but if he sunk he was acquitted.

Both in England and Sweden, the clergy presided at this trial. It was at last condemned as unlawful by the canon law, and in England it was abolished by an order in council of Henry III.

It is probably our proverbial phrase, to go through fire and water, denoting severe trial or danger, is derived from the ordeal; as also the trial of witches by water.

2. Severe trial; accurate scrutiny.



Evolution (or devolution) of this word [ordeal]

1828 Webster1844 Webster1913 Webster

OR'DEAL, n. [The last syllable is deal, to divide or distribute. The sense of the prefix is less obvious. But the real sense is not obvious. The practice of ordeal however seems to have had its origin in the belief that the substances used had each its particular presiding deity that had perfect control over it.]

1. An ancient form of trial to determine guilt or innocence, practiced by the rude nations of Europe, and still practiced in the East Indies. In England, the ordeal was of two sorts, fire-ordeal and water-ordeal; the former being confined to persons of higher rank, the latter to the common people. Both might be performed by deputy, but the principal was to answer for the success of the trial.

Fire-ordeal was performed either by taking in the hand a piece of red hot iron, or by walking barefoot and blindfold over nine red hot plowshares laid lengthwise at unequal distances; and if the person escapes unhurt, he was adjudged innocent, otherwise he was condemned as guilty.

Water-ordeal was performed, either by plunging the bare arm to the elbow in boiling water, or by casting the person suspected into a river or pond of cold water and if he floated without an effort to swim, it was an evidence of guilt, but if he sunk he was acquitted.

Both in England and Sweden, the clergy presided at this trial. It was at last condemned as unlawful by the canon law, and in England it was abolished by an order in council of Henry III.

It is probably our proverbial phrase, to go through fire and water, denoting severe trial or danger, is derived from the ordeal; as also the trial of witches by water.

2. Severe trial; accurate scrutiny.

OR'DE-AL, n. [Sax. ordal or ordæl; G. urtheil; D. ordeel. The last syllable is deal, to divide or distribute. The sense of the prefix is less obvious. Wilkins supposes or to signify without, as in some Saxon words it has that sense, and ordeal to signify without difference or distinction of persons, entire judgment. In Saxon, ord signifies origin, cause, beginning, prime. In G. ur signifies prime, very, original; urwort, primitive word. In Dutch, oor is the ear; oorlog, war. But this prefix would seem to be the same as in furlow (furlough;) for in G. urlaub, D. oorlof, Dan. orlov, Sw. orlof, is a furlow, and this indicates that or is a corruption of far or for. In Welsh, this word is gordal, which Owen compounds of gor, high, superior, extreme, above, and tâl, reward, requital; and gordal signifies not only ordeal, but an over payment, a making satisfaction over and above. Or then may signify out, away, and in ordeal may denote ultimate, final. But the real sense is not obvious. The practice of ordeal however seems to have had its origin in the belief that the substances used had each its particular presiding deity that had perfect control over it.]

  1. An ancient form of trial to determine guilt or innocence, practiced by the rude nations of Europe, and still practiced in the East Indies. In England, the ordeal was of two sorts, fire-ordeal and water-ordeal; the former being confined to persons of higher rank, the latter to the common people. Both might be performed by deputy, but the principal was to answer for the success of the trial. Fire-ordeal was performed either by taking in the hand a piece of red hot iron, or by walking barefoot and blindfold over nine red hot plowshares laid lengthwise at unequal distances; and if the person escaped unhurt, he was adjudged innocent, otherwise he was condemned as guilty. Water-ordeal was performed, either by plunging the bare arm to the elbow in boiling water, or by casting the person suspected into a river or pond of cold water, and if he floated without an effort to swim, it was an evidence of guilt, but if he sunk he was acquitted. Both in England and Sweden, the clergy presided at this trial. It was at last condemned as unlawful by the canon law, and in England it was abolished by an order in council of Henry III. Blackstone. It is probable our proverbial phrase, to go through fire and water, denoting severe trial or danger, is derived from the ordeal; as also the trial of witches by water.
  2. Severe trial; accurate scrutiny.

Or"de*al
  1. An ancient form of test to determine guilt or innocence, by appealing to a supernatural decision, -- once common in Europe, and still practiced in the East and by savage tribes.

    &fist] In England ordeal by fire and ordeal by water were used, the former confined to persons of rank, the latter to the common people. The ordeal by fire was performed, either by handling red-hot iron, or by walking barefoot and blindfold over red-hot plowshares, laid at unequal distances. If the person escaped unhurt, he was adjudged innocent; otherwise he was condemned as guilty. The ordeal by water was performed, either by plunging the bare arm to the elbow in boiling water, an escape from injury being taken as proof of innocence, or by casting the accused person, bound hand and foot, into a river or pond, when if he floated it was an evidence of guilt, but if he sunk he was acquitted. It is probable that the proverbial phrase, to go through fire and water, denoting severe trial or danger, is derived from the ordeal. See Wager of battle, under Wager.

  2. Of or pertaining to trial by ordeal.
  3. Any severe trial, or test; a painful experience.

    Ordeal bean. (Bot.) See Calabar bean, under Calabar. -- Ordeal root (Bot.) the root of a species of Strychnos growing in West Africa, used, like the ordeal bean, in trials for witchcraft. -- Ordeal tree (Bot.), a poisonous tree of Madagascar (Tanghinia, or Cerbera, venenata). Persons suspected of crime are forced to eat the seeds of the plumlike fruit, and criminals are put to death by being pricked with a lance dipped in the juice of the seeds.

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Ordeal

OR'DEAL, noun [The last syllable is deal, to divide or distribute. The sense of the prefix is less obvious. But the real sense is not obvious. The practice of ordeal however seems to have had its origin in the belief that the substances used had each its particular presiding deity that had perfect control over it.]

1. An ancient form of trial to determine guilt or innocence, practiced by the rude nations of Europe, and still practiced in the East Indies. In England, the ordeal was of two sorts, fire-ordeal and water-ordeal; the former being confined to persons of higher rank, the latter to the common people. Both might be performed by deputy, but the principal was to answer for the success of the trial.

Fire-ordeal was performed either by taking in the hand a piece of red hot iron, or by walking barefoot and blindfold over nine red hot plowshares laid lengthwise at unequal distances; and if the person escapes unhurt, he was adjudged innocent, otherwise he was condemned as guilty.

Water-ordeal was performed, either by plunging the bare arm to the elbow in boiling water, or by casting the person suspected into a river or pond of cold water and if he floated without an effort to swim, it was an evidence of guilt, but if he sunk he was acquitted.

Both in England and Sweden, the clergy presided at this trial. It was at last condemned as unlawful by the canon law, and in England it was abolished by an order in council of Henry III.

It is probably our proverbial phrase, to go through fire and water, denoting severe trial or danger, is derived from the ordeal; as also the trial of witches by water.

2. Severe trial; accurate scrutiny.

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Words are how God chooses tocommunicate with us. Knowing what they mean adds understanding to my heart of what He has done for me. Like the word redeem, in this dictionary gives amazing depth to what has transpired through Jesus's sacrifice for me.

— Sabrina (Chattanooga, TN)

Word of the Day

importance

IMPORT'ANCE, n.

1. Weight; consequence; a bearing on some interest; that quality of any thing by which it may affect a measure, interest or result. The education of youth is of great importance to a free government. A religious education is of infinite importance to every human being.

2. Weight or consequence in the scale of being.

Thy own importance know.

Nor bound thy narrow views to things below.

3. Weight or consequence in self-estimation.

He believes himself a man of importance.

4. Thing implied; matter; subject; importunity. [In these senses, obsolete.]

Random Word

physics

PHYS'ICS, n. s as z. In its most extensive sense, the science of nature or of natural objects, comprehending the study or knowledge of whatever exists.

1. In the usual and more limited sense, the science of the material system, including natural history and philosophy. This science is of vast extent, comprehending whatever can be discovered of the nature and properties of bodies, their causes, effects, affections, operations, phenomena and laws.

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