Trial By Fire Meaning
(idiomatic, by extension) Any ordeal which tests one's strength, endurance, or resolve.
Example: A test in which a person is exposed to flames in order to assess his/her truthfulness, commitment, courage, etc.
1863, George Eliot, Romola, ch. 63:
â€œ[I]t seems to me Fra Francesco is the greater hero, for he offers to enter the fire for the truth, though he is sure the fire will burn him.â€ . . .
â€œIt is true, Messer Segretario,â€ said the shopkeeper, with subdued impatience. â€œBut will you favour us by interpreting the Latin?â€
â€œAssuredly,â€ said Tito. â€œIt does but express the conclusions or doctrines which the Frate specially teaches, and which the trial by fire is to prove true or false.â€
1892, H. Rider Haggard, Nada the Lily, ch. 10:
And he pointed with his little assegai, the assegai handled with the royal wood, to where the fire glowed reddestâ€”ay, he pointed and laughed. Then, my father, I grew cold indeedâ€”yes, I grew cold who soon should be hot, for I saw the purpose of Chaka. He would put me to the trial by fire.
1922, Sax Rohmer, Fire-Tongue, ch. 34:
[T]he final test, the trial by fire, which took place in a subterranean chamber of the great temple, resulted in a candidate whose courage failed him being precipitated into that lake of flame which I have already described.
A situation in which a soldier or other combatant faces the discharge of opposing weapons, as a test of his or her fortitude.
1939 Sept. 8, "Swiss Hear Heavy Guns," Reading Eagle (USA), p. 8 (retrieved 15 July 2012):
French troops, submitting to a trial by fire, drew toward the German forts, capturing and holding some machine-gun nests.
1959 June 22, "Cinema," Time:
Pork Chop Hill. Director Lewis Milestone . . . has produced a nerve-shattering study of how the American infantryman met his trial by fire in Korea.
1918, Stewart Edward White, The Forty-Niners, ch. 5:
But take it all in all, the overland trail was a trial by fire. One gets a notion of its deadliness from the fact that over five thousand people died of cholera alone.
2001 June 18, Jessica Reaves, "Will Your Doctor Get More Reasonable Hours?," Time:
Now, residents' legendary 100+-hour workweek may be on its way out. . . . Some doctors insist the long hours are a necessary trial by fire that produces highly skilled, virtually unflappable physicians.