Or´de`al Pronunciation: ôr´dė`al
ORDEAL. An ancient superstitious mode of tribal. When in a criminal case the
accused was arraigned, be might select the mode of trial either by God and
his country, that is, by jury; or by God only, that is by ordeal.
2. The trial by ordeal was either by fire or by water. Those who were
tried by the former passed barefooted and blindfolded over nine hot glowing
ploughshares; or were to carry burning irons in their hands; and accordingly
as they escaped or not, they were acquitted or condemned. The water ordeal
was performed either in hot or cold water. In cold water, the parties
suspected were adjudged innocent, if their bodies were not borne up by the
water contrary to the course of nature; and if, after putting their bare
arms or legs into scalding water they came out unhurt, they were taken to be
innocent of the crime.
3. It was impiously supposed that God would, by the mere contrivance of
man, exercise his power in favor of the innocent. 4. Bl. Com. 342; 2 Am.
Jur. 280. For a detailed account of the trial by ordeal, see Herb. Antiq. of
the Inns of Court, 146.
, acid test
, blank determination
, crucial test
, feeling out
, fiery ordeal
, first draft
, ghost dance
, magic circle
, ordeal by battle
, rough draft
, rough sketch
, sounding out
, test case
, trials and tribulations