WHERE DID "GETTING THE 3rd DEGREE" ORIGINATE?
When someone is being really questioned vigorously,they often will say something like " Why am I getting the third degree"?
Where does that phrase come from?
I realize that the Masons have a 1st, 2nd,and 3rd degree (the 3rd being a Master Mason, the other 29 being bestowed at the Scottish Rite level), but I don't know if the two are related.
- RetroRayLv 71 decade agoFavorite Answer
An authoritative site [http://members.aol.com/MorelandC/HaveOrigins.htm ]
seems to substantiate your instinct as the origin of the term is described there as follows:
" 'The third degree' evokes images of lengthy police interrogation under bright lights, rubber hoses, and without the benefits of counsel. This phrase origin can be found within the Masonic Lodge. Within the lodge there are 3 degrees; the Entered Apprentice, the Fellowcraft and the Master Mason. To become a Third-Degree or Master Mason, the highest rank, one must submit to questioning. The Mason's questioning for the third-degree was known to be an intense ordeal, frightening and unpleasant. Additionally, it is more physically challenging that the first two degrees." Thus, the term has come to be used for any long an arduous questioning or interrogation.
This description of the origin of the term is also found at another reliable source:
- Arial NarrowLv 41 decade ago
"Mark the Master Mason wrote: This usually refers to a rough form of interrogation by police officers, but is another Masonic term.
In the Masonic lodge, there are three degrees, the first is called Entered Apprentice, the second Fellowcraft, and the third is Master Mason. When a candidate receives the third degree in a Masonic lodge, he is subjected to some activities that involve an interrogation, and it is more physically challenging than the first two degrees (though he not beaten or harmed in any way whatsoever). Giving the person the "third degree" means interrogating him with vigor, and is a phrase taken from the Masonic third degree. "Source(s): http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com
- d_r_sivaLv 71 decade ago
"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.
The third degree
The classification of the qualities of objects by degree - heat and cold, moisture and dryness etc. - was commonplace in the middle ages. Henry Lyte's translation of Dodoens' Niewe herball or historie of plantes, 1578 includes a description of rue:
"Rue is hoate and dry in the thirde degree."
Shakespeare went on to apply the degree classification to drink, in Twelfth Night, 1601:
"For he s in the third degree of drinke: hee's drown'd: go looke after him."
The present meaning involves more than classification though. 'The third degree' is well-known to all US crime-fiction enthusiasts as 'an intensive, possibly brutal, interrogation'.
In Masonic lodges there are three degrees of membership; the first is called Entered Apprentice, the second Fellowcraft, and the third is master mason. When a candidate receives the third degree in a Masonic lodge, he is subjected to some activities that involve an interrogation and it is more physically challenging than the first two degrees. It is this interrogation that was the source of the name of the US police force's interrogation technique. That is referred to in an 1900 edition of Everybody's Magazine:
"From time to time a prisoner... claims to have had the Third Degree administered to him."
Expressions using "third degree": give the third degree ♦ the third degree ♦ third degree murder.
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- ItsatushyLv 41 decade ago
I alway thought it had to do with burns... 3 degree is the worsest and burns through more layers.... just whaat i alway thought. (had lots on burns in my life)
- SophistLv 71 decade ago
Interrogation has three degrees - asking, showing the instruments of torture and torture.