third degree

  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.

Origin of third degree

First recorded in 1860–65

Words Nearby third degree

Other definitions for third-degree (2 of 2)

[ thurd-di-gree ]

verb (used with object),third-de·greed, third-de·gree·ing.
  1. to subject to the third degree.

  1. of or relating to the third degree.

Origin of third-degree

An Americanism dating back to 1895–1900 Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use third degree in a sentence

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

    Dreamy Hollow | Sumner Charles Britton
  • And that's the only reason why the so-called third-degree inquisitions are to be tolerated.

    Dreamy Hollow | Sumner Charles Britton
  • Hence it is that we are all meaters, perforce, but not all of us are third-degree-removed cannibals.

    Fletcherism | Horace Fletcher

British Dictionary definitions for third degree

third degree

  1. informal torture or bullying, esp used to extort confessions or information

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

Other 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.

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