From Middle English *ordel, ordal, from Old English ordēl, ordāl (“ordeal, judgement”), from Proto-Germanic *uzdailiją (“judgement”, literally “an out-dealing”), from *uzdailijaną (“to deal out; dispense”), equivalent to or- + deal. Cognate with Saterland Frisian Uurdeel (“judgement; verdict”), West Frisian oardiel (“judgement”), Dutch oordeel (“judgement, discretion”), Low German Oordeel (“judgement; verdict”), German Urteil (“judgement, verdict”).
ordeal (plural ordeals)
- A painful or trying experience.
1960, P. G. Wodehouse, “XXI”, in Jeeves in the Offing:
- “And do you realize that in a few shakes I've got to show up at dinner and have Mrs Cream being very, very kind to me? It hurts the pride of the Woosters, Jeeves.” “My advice, sir, would be to fortify yourself for the ordeal.” “How?” “There are always cocktails, sir. Should I pour you another?” “You should.”
2012 December 29, Paul Doyle, “Arsenal's Theo Walcott hits hat-trick in thrilling victory over Newcastle”, in The Guardian:
- Arsène Wenger confessed: "The result was not an accurate indication of the match." Certainly, at half-time it seemed unlikely that Arsenal would catch fire so spectacularly because the first half was a damp squib of a display from Wenger's team, as Newcastle initially showed no ill-effects from their Old Trafford ordeal.
- A trial in which the accused was subjected to a dangerous test (such as ducking in water), divine authority deciding the guilt of the accused.