This question already has an answer here:

... Fiction writers (eye roll)

To be burned at the stake

If we can't come up with a verb, perhaps a corresponding noun or adjective would suffice.

15th century historical fiction, so modern terms such as marshmallowed wouldn't really help.

Here is my sample:

You, the accused, have been found guilty of practicing Judaism as a Christian. This heresy against our Lord Savior carries the penalty of ____(noun).


[C]onvicted of heresy, you are to be ____(verb).

marked as duplicate by TimLymington, Mari-Lou A single-word-requests Feb 28 '16 at 12:22

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  • 3
    Bare burn was the usual term, the stake being merely a convenient prop. But if you really need something flamboyantly archaic, combure was used in this sense in the 16th century (and the statute under which heretics was burned was de haeretico comburendo). – StoneyB Feb 27 '16 at 16:55
  • It's a transitive verb--the noun form is familiar to you, combustion, but it has an intransitive sense nowadays. I'll try to get around to working this up as an Answer. – StoneyB Feb 27 '16 at 17:19
  • Take a look at "The New Yorker", Feb 29, 2016, page 24, cartoon "Joanie of Arc" by Shanahan. (It won't give you the word, but it is apt.) – ab2 Feb 27 '16 at 22:08
  • 2
    Not exactly correct, but a good starting point for your search: Autodafe. It's a noun of exactly the right time period and that describes a process that typically ended in burning at the stake. – Iwillnotexist Idonotexist Feb 27 '16 at 22:09
  • 1
    Wait, are you insinuating that fiction writers are to be immolated?!?!? – Xandar The Zenon Feb 28 '16 at 3:55

There is immolate:

to kill or destroy (someone or something) by fire

You also have the noun immolation and the adjective immolated. Now the thing is it doesn't have to be at a stake. It could be, say, in a cage.

The word has been around since the 15th century.

  • I like it. Would be better if you cited merriam-webster properly rather than just providing a link. Would also be nice to see the OPs samples with the blanks filled in. – candied_orange Feb 27 '16 at 17:48
  • I edited in the examples, I think, after his answer. But I do quite like it. It sounds sinister. – Stu W Feb 27 '16 at 18:31

How about incinerate?

To cause to burn to ashes. FOD

Can anyone empathize with the bigot putting a torch to the stake where the condemned heretic will be incinerated? The Past is a Foreign Country


Torched meaning "set alight" might be suitable.

I think it comes from an era when torches were fire on a stick which probably coincides with the era of burning at the stake.

  • I was shrugging my shoulders, but then I considered the possible use as an interjection: Torch them! Nice. – Stu W Feb 27 '16 at 22:02
  • 1
    You know, in America, we have flashlights. So I am 99% sure this is from back when torches were flaming sticks. – Xandar The Zenon Feb 28 '16 at 3:54
  • @Xandar we still call a flashlight "a torch" in the UK, and I'm never certain where language comes from since ELU has shown me it can be entirely unrelated to what I think. – Dom Feb 28 '16 at 18:12
  • I know you do, that is why I included that I am from America. – Xandar The Zenon Feb 28 '16 at 19:57

Not something in use, but with potential to catch on (if you're writing Monty Python styled stuff):


To use your sentences (to be read in a John Cleese-ish voice):

You, the accused, have been found guilty of practicing Judaism as a Christian. This heresy against our Lord Savior carries the penalty of barbecue (noun).


[C]onvicted of heresy, you are to be barbecued (verb).

  • I'm perhaps halfway to Mont Python, so it's a bit too informal. – Stu W Feb 28 '16 at 14:52

You, the accused, have been found guilty of practicing Judaism as a Christian. This heresy against our Lord Savior carries the penalty of the fagot.

A “fagot” is “a bundle of sticks used to make a fire.” So “the fagot” was what you stood on top of before they set the fire alight. It is the device that was used to execute people by fire in the same way the gas chamber is the device that was used to gas people.

From Sermons and Remains, Hugh Latimer, 1500’s:

Running out of Germany for fear of the fagot.

Your example could also be written for other methods of execution:

… carries the penalty of the guillotine.

… carries the penalty of the electric chair.

So it is the actual execution device you are looking for. In this case, “the fagot.”

Later the spelling changed to “faggot” and the word also became a slur against both women and gay men. But that is after the time period you are working in.

  • An excellent answer, but for commercial fiction it simply won't work. – Stu W Feb 28 '16 at 15:01

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