Share this entry

gallows Line breaks: gal|lows
Pronunciation: /ˈɡaləʊz/

Definition of gallows in English:

plural noun

[usually treated as singular]
1A structure, typically of two uprights and a crosspiece, for the hanging of criminals.
Example sentences
  • A gallows is a structure used customarily to hang criminals.
  • The second is that an expectant and sceptical mob is starting to gather, with what looks ominously like a gallows and a hanging rope.
  • After that, the SS officers set up gallows and had hangings during each roll call.
gibbet, scaffold
archaic gallow-tree, Gregorian tree, derrick, three-legged mare, nubbing cheat, nub
archaic , informal leafless tree, triple tree, Tyburn tree
1.1 (the gallows) Execution by hanging: he was saved from the gallows by a last-minute reprieve
More example sentences
  • He staked everything on his ability to convince a judge to sentence the pair to life imprisonment and save them from the gallows.
  • It grew from the humane desire of judges to alleviate the severity of the law in an age when many crimes were still classified as felonies, for which the punishment was death by the gallows.
  • If a woman miscarried, went into labor early, or had trouble hiring a midwife, she could be sent to the gallows.
hanging, being hanged, the noose, the rope, the gibbet, the scaffold;
the death penalty, execution, being executed
informal the drop, being strung up


Old English galga, gealga, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch galg and German Galgen; reinforced in Middle English by Old Norse gálgi.

Words that rhyme with gallows


Definition of gallows in:

Share this entry


What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.

Get more from Oxford Dictionaries

Subscribe to remove adverts and access premium resources

Word of the day homonym
Pronunciation: ˈhɒmənɪm
a word having the same spelling as another...