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Press you for an answer

Posted by Victoria S Dennis on March 31, 2010 at 18:32

In Reply to: Press you for an answer posted by Jo Seaman on March 31, 2010 at 17:25:

: Another question, I couldn't find the meaning of "I will have to press you for an answer" I have been told, again, on the ghost walk, that criminals were pressed to death. This was done by using a door or large wooden structure, and that this went on for several days. During that time the person would be taken into court and asked if they were guilty, and then be returned to the press again, and I believe this was repeated until the person was pressed to death. Is this true?

The torture the guide was describing (rather inaccurately - see here: was called "peine forte et dure" and was a way of forcing accused persons to plead. It has nothing - absolutely nothing whatever - to do with "pressing someone for an answer". The verb to press" has had a raft of figurative meanings - to insist, to urge, to hasten, to be urgent ("Time presses"; "a pressing need"), to put pressure on - since the 17th century.

I think you should complain to the company that organised the ghost walk. Your guide peddled you at two pieces of complete tripe, and if I were you I'd ask for my money back. You might not get it, but at least it might impel the company to discourage its guides from telling blatant fibs. (VSD)