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[pil-uh-ree] /ˈpɪl ə ri/
noun, plural pillories.
a wooden framework erected on a post, with holes for securing the head and hands, formerly used to expose an offender to public derision.
verb (used with object), pilloried, pillorying.
to set in the pillory.
to expose to public derision, ridicule, or abuse:
The candidate mercilessly pilloried his opponent.
1225-75; Middle English pyllory < Old French pilori, perhaps < Medieval Latin pīlōrium, equivalent to Latin pīl(a) pillar (see pile1) + -ōrium -ory2, though Romance variants such as Provençal espillori suggest a less transparent source
Related forms
unpilloried, adjective
Can be confused
pillar, pillory, pillow. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for pilloried
  • Anyone who has dared venture into the public domain to discuss population issues can expect to be pilloried by all sides.
  • Online courses, particularly those at for-profit colleges, have been pilloried for their high dropout rates.
  • But the market economy has been unfairly pilloried for dealing only with monetary rewards.
  • Bill has been pilloried for his conduct in this campaign.
  • The president has also been pilloried for kowtowing to foreign leaders.
  • They should both be pilloried in the town square for crimes against their country.
  • They are pilloried for having wildly overestimated the quality of mortgage-related securities.
  • Rush is often unfairly pilloried through the tactic of presenting his satirical comments as literal or twisting them.
  • He will be pilloried by the teaching establishment who likes the status quo.
  • He now claims he is being pilloried for making a single inappropriate remark while tousling a staffer's hair at a wedding.
British Dictionary definitions for pilloried


noun (pl) -ries
a wooden framework into which offenders were formerly locked by the neck and wrists and exposed to public abuse and ridicule
exposure to public scorn or abuse
verb (transitive) -ries, -rying, -ried
to expose to public scorn or ridicule
to punish by putting in a pillory
Word Origin
C13: from Anglo-Latin pillorium, from Old French pilori, of uncertain origin; related to Provençal espillori
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for pilloried



late 13c. (attested in Anglo-Latin from late 12c.), from Old French pilori "pillory" (mid-12c.), related to Medieval Latin pilloria, of uncertain origin, perhaps a diminutive of Latin pila "pillar, stone barrier" (see pillar), but OED finds this proposed derivation "phonologically unsuitable."


c.1600, from pillory (n.). Figurative sense of "expose publicly to ridicule or abuse" is from 1690s. Related: Pilloried.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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