third degree(数にちなむ表現)

数がからんだ英語表現、今回は「3」の続きとして the third degree を取り上げたい。手持ちの英和辞書の一つは「厳しい尋問」としか書いていないが、英英辞典を見ると、単なる質問攻め、という程度ではすまない場合もあるようだ。

- intensive interrogation, especially when accompanied by rough physical treatment
- long and harsh questioning to obtain information or a confession
- the subjection of a prisoner to mental or physical torture to extract a confession


- The interrogators gave the suspects the third degree.


- When I came home at 4am, my dad really gave me the third degree.

この the third degree とはフリーメーソンの最高位のことで、ここにたどり着くまでの厳しい試験から来た言い回しだそうだ。フリーメーソンというと、秘密のベールに包まれているというイメージを持つが、試験の厳しさだけは外部にも伝わっていたということだろうか。

- < the interrogation required to reach the "third degree," the highest rank in Freemasonry
(Encarta World English Dictionary)

- "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)

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