give (someone) the third degree

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give (someone) the third degree

To interrogate, scrutinize, or question someone intensely or thoroughly. My boyfriend is so controlling, always giving me the third degree if I go anywhere or see anyone without him. The police gave me the third degree regarding my whereabouts during the crime.
See also: degree, give, third
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2022 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

give someone the third degree

If someone gives you the third degree, they ask you a lot of questions in a determined manner. He told the operator his wife was having a baby on the pavement. The operator gave him the third degree to make sure he was serious. The interviewer didn't exactly give her the third degree.
See also: degree, give, someone, third
Collins COBUILD Idioms Dictionary, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2012

third degree, to give/get the

To give or be subjected to intensive questioning and/or rough treatment. In Freemasonry, the third and highest degree is that of master mason, attained after a stiff examination, and several writers speculate that this may be the source of the late nineteenth-century expression for an inquisition. Today the term is used both for the sometimes brutal tactics of the police and other authorities to make a prisoner tell the truth or reveal secrets, and more lightly for questioning about less important matters, as in “Jane gave Martha the third degree about her good-looking new boss.”
See also: get, give, third, to
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer
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References in periodicals archive ?
But when they finally decide to get married, the church (and their parents) should cheer them on, not give them the third degree.
As Greeley says, "Cheer them on, not give them the third degree."
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