Ordal

Anglo-Saxon term for “The judgement of God.” Trial by ordeal was administered in various ways, depending on the defendant’s social status. Some were tested by immersing their hands in hot water. If blisters appeared, their testimony was considered flawed, which led to the modern expression being in hot water. Suspected witches were subjected to a practice known as “swimming like a witch,” since the medium of water was used in baptismal rites. Water would reject a real witch, it was believed, causing her to float.

Jeffery Kacirk, Forgotten English Knowledge Cards. Pomegranate.