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. © 2015 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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