Stocks, a device formerly used to punish petty offenders. It consisted of a heavy timber frame, having one or more movable boards with openings through which the feet or the feet and hands could be thrust and clamped into place. Stocks were generally used for such minor offenses as drunkenness, vagrancy, and gossiping, and were usually set up in the town square, where the offender was exposed for several hours to public ridicule. Stocks may have been developed in England, where they were a common means of punishment for several centuries. They were also common in colonial New England. They had largely fallen into disuse by 1800.