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pillory (PIL-uh-ree) noun

A wooden framework on a post, with holes for the head and hands, in which offenders were formerly locked to be exposed to public scorn as punishment.

verb tr.

1. To expose to ridicule and abuse.

2. To put in a pillory as punishment.

[Middle English, from Old French pilori, probably from Latin pila, pillar.]

"Just as Carson was pilloried for her 1962 book Silent Spring, which warned of the dangers of the pesticide DDT, Colborn has been in the hot seat for her 1996 book Our Stolen Future (co-authored with Dianne Dumanoski and John Peterson Myers). Colborn's controversial message is that even low-dose exposures to many of the man-made chemicals found in common plastics, cleaning compounds, and cosmetics can affect newborn babies and developing fetuses, and can cause a range of problems, including low IQs, genital malformations, low sperm counts, and infertility." Snell, Marilyn Berlin, Theo Colborn: a controversial scientist speaks out on plastics, IQ, and the womb, Mother Jones, 13 Mar 1998.

pillory, n. A mechanical device for inflicting personal distinction -- prototype of the modern newspaper conducted by persons of austere virtues and blameless lives. [From The Devil's Dictionary]

This week's theme: Words from The Devil's Dictionary by Ambrose Bierce.


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