peine forte et dure

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English[edit]

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Etymology[edit]

Law French, from French peine forte et dure (severe and hard punishment).

Phrase[edit]

Giles Corey, pressed to death by rocks on 1692 September 19 during the Salem witch trials.
An 1868 engraving of a prisoner crushed in India under an elephant’s foot.

peine forte et dure

  1. (law, archaic) Crushing, an old form of punishment (torture) in which the prisoner's body was pressed with heavy weights.