third degree

Slang Dictionary

third degree definition


  1. n.
    a session of questioning, usually by the police. : Bart got the third degree, but—being the thoroughbred he is—he was a clam. , They gave Spike the third degree, but he refused to say anything.
Dictionary of American Slang and Colloquial Expressions by Richard A. Spears.Fourth Edition.
Copyright 2007. Published by McGraw-Hill Education.
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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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