third degree

noun
1.
intensive questioning or rough treatment, especially by the police, in order to get information or a confession.
2.
the degree of master mason in Freemasonry.

Origin:
1860–65

Dictionary.com Unabridged

third-degree

[thurd-di-gree]
verb (used with object), third-degreed, third-degreeing.
1.
to subject to the third degree.
adjective
2.
of or pertaining to the third degree.

Origin:
1895–1900, Americanism

Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
third degree
 
n
informal torture or bullying, esp used to extort confessions or information

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Etymonline
Word Origin & History

third degree
"intense interrogation by police," 1900, probably a reference to Third Degree of master mason in Freemasonry (1772), the conferring of which included an interrogation ceremony. Third degree as a measure of severity of burns (most severe) is attested from 1866, from Fr. (1832); in Amer.Eng., as a definition
of the seriousness of a particular type of crime (the least serious type) it is recorded from 1865.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Idioms & Phrases

third degree

Intensive questioning or rough treatment used to obtain information or a confession, as in The detectives gave her the third degree, or Jim gave her the third degree when she came home so late. This term comes from freemasonry, where a candidate receives the third or highest degree, that of master mason, upon passing an intensive test. Dating from the 1770s, the phrase was transferred to other kinds of interrogation in the late 1800s.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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Example sentences
These scientists used more than a third degree polynomial to fit the data.
She'd tipped over a lantern to set herself on fire, burning third degree holes into her sternum.
These scientists used more than a third degree polynomial to fit the data.
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