[ thurd-di-gree ]
/ ˈθɜrd dɪˈgri /

verb (used with object), third-de·greed, third-de·gree·ing.

to subject to the third degree.


of or relating to the third degree.

Origin of third-degree

An Americanism dating back to 1895–1900

Definition for third-degree (2 of 2)

third degree


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

Origin of third degree

First recorded in 1860–65 Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2020

Examples from the Web for third-degree

British Dictionary definitions for third-degree

third degree


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

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.