An ordeal is something difficult or painful to go through. Something kind of hard like taking a test can be an ordeal, but often an ordeal is a serious and long-lasting event, like an illness or tragedy.

When you go through an ordeal you have to deal with something tough. Waiting for someone you love to recover from an injury and come home from the hospital is an ordeal––for both of you––and being a victim of a crime is a different kind of ordeal. You can use this noun in an exaggerated way, too, as when you endure the long ordeal of cleaning the garage on a sunny weekend.

Definitions of ordeal
  1. noun
    a severe or trying experience
    synonyms: gauntlet
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    type of:
    an event as apprehended
  2. noun
    a primitive method of determining a person's guilt or innocence by subjecting the accused person to dangerous or painful tests believed to be under divine control; escape was usually taken as a sign of innocence
    synonyms: trial by ordeal
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    type of:
    (law) the determination of a person's innocence or guilt by due process of law
Word Family
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