Definition of pilliwinks in English:

Share this entry


Pronunciation: /ˈpɪlɪwɪŋks/

plural noun

An instrument of torture used for squeezing the fingers.
Example sentences
  • Other means of torture used in the Tower included the thumbscrew, the boot, the narrow-bore, the iron collar, the pilliwinks, and the brakes, a device used to break the victims' teeth.
  • If you can not be reined in, pilliwinks will be applied to set you right.


Late Middle English pyrwykes, pyrewinkes, of unknown origin.

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.