The pillory was a device made of a wooden or metal framework erected on a post, with holes for securing the head and hands, formerly used for punishment by public humiliation and often further physical abuse. The pillory is related to the stocks.
The word is documented in English since 1274 (attested in Anglo-Latin from c. 1189), and stems from Old French pellori (1168; modern French pilori), itself from medieval Latin pilloria, of uncertain origin, perhaps a diminutive of Latin pila "pillar, stone barrier."
Rather like the lesser punishment called the stocks, the pillory consisted of hinged wooden boards forming holes through which the head and/or various limbs were inserted; then the boards were locked together to secure the captive. Pillories were set up to hold petty criminals in marketplaces, crossroads, and other public places. They were often placed on platforms to increase public visibility of the offender. Often a placard detailing the crime was placed nearby; these punishments generally lasted only a few hours.
However, the main purpose in putting criminals in the pillory was to publicly humiliate them.
Those who gathered to watch the punishment typically wanted to make the offender's experience as unpleasant as possible.
Victims may be insulted, kicked, tickled, spat on, or subjected to other inhumane acts at the discretion of passersby.
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