• synonyms


noun, plural pil·lo·ries.
  1. a wooden framework erected on a post, with holes for securing the head and hands, formerly used to expose an offender to public derision.
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verb (used with object), pil·lo·ried, pil·lo·ry·ing.
  1. to set in the pillory.
  2. to expose to public derision, ridicule, or abuse: The candidate mercilessly pilloried his opponent.
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Origin of pillory

1225–75; Middle English pyllory < Old French pilori, perhaps < Medieval Latin pīlōrium, equivalent to Latin pīl(a) pillar (see pile1) + -ōrium -ory2, though Romance variants such as Provençal espillori suggest a less transparent source
Related formsun·pil·lo·ried, adjective
Can be confusedpillar pillory pillow
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for pilloried


noun plural -ries
  1. a wooden framework into which offenders were formerly locked by the neck and wrists and exposed to public abuse and ridicule
  2. exposure to public scorn or abuse
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verb -ries, -rying or -ried (tr)
  1. to expose to public scorn or ridicule
  2. to punish by putting in a pillory
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Word Origin for pillory

C13: from Anglo-Latin pillorium, from Old French pilori, of uncertain origin; related to Provençal espillori
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for pilloried



late 13c. (attested in Anglo-Latin from late 12c.), from Old French pilori "pillory" (mid-12c.), related to Medieval Latin pilloria, of uncertain origin, perhaps a diminutive of Latin pila "pillar, stone barrier" (see pillar), but OED finds this proposed derivation "phonologically unsuitable."

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c.1600, from pillory (n.). Figurative sense of "expose publicly to ridicule or abuse" is from 1690s. Related: Pilloried.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper