During the Salem witch trials in the late 1600s, women accused of witchcraft were executed by hanging, a gruesome process that involves a gallows, or wooden frame from which a person is hung by a rope.

A gallows is a frame, usually wood, that is made up of a horizontal crossbeam from which a noose or rope is suspended. The word gallows has an s at the end of it because a gallows usually consists of two upright poles and a crossbeam. As a form of capital punishment, hanging is outlawed in almost every state, making the use of gallows these days very rare. If you see one, it will be in a museum.

Definitions of gallows

n an instrument of execution consisting of a wooden frame from which a condemned person is executed by hanging

gallous, gallows tree, gallows-tree, gibbet
alternative terms for gallows
Type of:
instrument of execution
an instrument designed and used to take the life of a condemned person

Sign up, it's free!

Whether you're a student, an educator, or a lifelong learner, can put you on the path to systematic vocabulary improvement.