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third-degree

[thurd-di-gree]
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verb (used with object), third-de·greed, third-de·gree·ing.
  1. to subject to the third degree.
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adjective
  1. of or relating to the third degree.
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Origin of third-degree

An Americanism dating back to 1895–1900

third degree

noun
  1. intensive questioning or rough treatment, especially by the police, in order to get information or a confession.
  2. the degree of master mason in Freemasonry.
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Origin of third degree

First recorded in 1860–65
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words

inquisitioninterrogationpressurecross-examinationcatechizecheckdebriefexaminegrillinquireinterrogateinvestigatepumpquestionquizscrutinizesweatcross-questionthird-degree

Examples from the Web for third-degree

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • I had one terrible time in third-degree stuff and have put him away for the night.

    Dreamy Hollow

    Sumner Charles Britton


British Dictionary definitions for third-degree

third degree

noun
  1. informal torture or bullying, esp used to extort confessions or information
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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 third-degree

third degree

n.

"intense interrogation by police," 1900, probably a reference to Third Degree of master mason in Freemasonry (1772), the conferring of which included an interrogation ceremony. Third degree as a measure of severity of burns (most severe) is attested from 1866, from French (1832); in American English, as a definition of the seriousness of a particular type of crime (the least serious type) it is recorded from 1865.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with third-degree

third degree

Intensive questioning or rough treatment used to obtain information or a confession, as in The detectives gave her the third degree, or Jim gave her the third degree when she came home so late. This term comes from freemasonry, where a candidate receives the third or highest degree, that of master mason, upon passing an intensive test. Dating from the 1770s, the phrase was transferred to other kinds of interrogation in the late 1800s.

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The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.