Definition of pillory in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈpɪləri/

noun (plural pillories)

Image of pillory
A wooden framework with holes for the head and hands, in which offenders were formerly imprisoned and exposed to public abuse.
Example sentences
  • The punishments for which may be confiscation of the fish, imprisonment, the pillory, and the offender giving up his occupation for a year and a day.
  • Prime Ministers and all high levels of UK government should be forced to spend at least one week a month in public stocks and pillories.
  • But he puts it from him as a temptation of the Evil One, makes public confession on the pillory which had been the scene of Hester's shame, and dies in her arms.

verb (pillories, pillorying, pilloried)

[with object]
1 historical Put (someone) in a pillory.
2Attack or ridicule publicly: he found himself pilloried by members of his own party
More example sentences
  • But a man who, for all his faults, has actually liberated more of those people from terror and oppression than any human rights group on earth, will be pilloried, attacked, booed and maligned.
  • It is precisely because he cites statistics, writes logically and avoids ideological fervour that he has been attacked and pilloried by eco-fundamentalists and fellow travellers around the world.
  • The notion that international relations - even in a time of war - are less important than being publicly pilloried by angry commuters shows politics reduced to its most banal.
attack, criticize, censure, condemn, denigrate, find fault with, give a bad press to, lambaste, flay, savage, brand, stigmatize, cast a slur on, denounce
informal knock, slam, pan, bash, take to pieces, take apart, crucify, monster, hammer, lay into, slate, rubbish, slag off, roast, skewer
North American informal pummel
Australian/New Zealand informal bag
archaic slash
rare excoriate
ridicule, jeer at, sneer at, deride, show up, hold up to shame, mock, hold up to ridicule, heap scorn on, treat with contempt, scorn, make fun of, poke fun at, laugh at, make jokes about, scoff at, be sarcastic about, tease, taunt, rag, chaff, jibe at, twit
informal kid, rib, josh, wind up, take the mickey out of, make a monkey of
North American informal goof on, rag on, razz, pull someone's chain
Australian/New Zealand informal chiack, poke mullock at, sling off at
British vulgar slang take the piss (out of)
archaic quiz, flout (at)


Middle English: from Old French pilori, probably from Provençal espilori (associated by some with a Catalan word meaning 'peephole', of uncertain origin).

  • This is from Old French pilori, probably from Provençal espilori, associated by some with a Catalan word meaning ‘peephole’, of uncertain origin. A pillory was made up of two boards brought together leaving holes for the head and hands; in Great Britain this punishment was abolished except for the crime of perjury in 1815 and totally in 1837. Its use continued in the States until 1905.

Words that rhyme with pillory

ancillary, artillery, capillary, codicillary, distillery, fibrillary, fritillary, Hilary, maxillary

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: pil|lory

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