burn at the stake


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burn someone at the stake

 
1. Lit. to set fire to a person tied to a post (as a form of execution). They used to burn witches at the stake.
2. Fig. to chastise or denounce someone severely or excessively. Stop yelling. I made a simple mistake, and you're burning me at the stake for it. Sally only spilled her milk. There is no need to shout. Don't burn her at the stake for it.
See also: burn, stake

burn at the stake

Execute someone by tying to a stake and burning; also, punish severely. This expression refers to a method used in the Middle Ages for putting heretics to death, but now it is used as a hyperbolic metaphor for harsh punishment, as in She was sure she'd be burned at the stake for losing the contract. In fact, the stake can be used loosely for any extreme punishment. William Makepeace Thackeray so used it in Henry Esmond (1852): "'I know I would go to the stake for you,' said Harry."
See also: burn, stake
References in periodicals archive ?
Before the trials ended, the justices condemned four whites and seventeen blacks to hang, thirteen blacks to burn at the stake and seventy-two blacks transported out of the colony.
Guess wrong in your investigation and burn at the stake (well, virtually, unless they've figured out a way to make the ``execute'' command a literal one on your computer).