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The word gallows is typically used to describe the frame used in the execution by hanging of convicted criminals.

A gallows can take several forms. The simplest (as often used in the game 'Hangman') resembles an inverted 'L', with a single upright and a horizontal beam to which the rope noose would be attached. In other designs, the horizontal crossbeam is supported at both ends. The infamous Tyburn gallows was triangular in plan, with three uprights and three crossbeams, allowing criminals to be executed along all three sides.

Hanging people from early gallows sometimes involved fitting the noose around the person's neck while they were on a ladder or in a horse-drawn cart underneath. Removing the ladder or driving the cart away left the person dangling by the neck so that they slowly strangled. Later, a 'scaffold' with a trap-door tended to be used, meaning that victims dropped down and died quickly from a broken neck rather than through strangulation.