A boycott is a refusal to do business or have other contaets with a person, a corporation, or a country. The word boycott, with a small "b," surfaced in 1880 when Captain Charles Cunningham Boycott (1832-1897), an English land agent for the estates of the Earl of Erne at Connaught in County Mayo, Ireland, evicted poverty-stricken tenant farmers who could not pay their rent. The farmers had been struck by a ruinous failure of crops and had little money.
   Captain Boycott was made a test case by the great Irish nationalist leader, Charles Parnell. Parnell's strategy was to ostracize any landlord who refused to lower rents or any tenant who took over a farm of an evicted tenant "by isolating him ... as if he were a leper of old ... by leaving him strictly alone." Boycott then found himself the target of total ostracism. His servants left, his farmhands left, and he was deprived of all mail delivery. Storekeepers refused to sell to him; people jeered at him and hung him in effigy. Further, marauders tore down his fences and turned his cattle loose. Life became unbearable, so miserable, that Boycott finally gave up and fled to England. Thus Boycott was responsible for the first boycott.
   People came to call this action a boycott, which became a very powerful term, especially when used by unions against employers regarded as unfair. A refusal to do business with the employer was called a primary boycott. Influencing other people to join the boycott was termed a secondary boycott. However, this latter maneuver was declared illegal by Federal United States courts.
   Boycott's fortitude must have returned to him or else he became lonely for Ireland, for he later visited Ireland on one of his holidays. At a public gathering in Dublin, Boycott was recognized — and cheered! Although to boycott and to send to Coventry mean the same thing, the latter expression arose much earlier in time. At the beginning of the war between Charles I and Parliament, Royalist prisoners were sent to the Cromwell stronghold of Coventry for safekeeping. The citizens of Coventry, especially the women, shunned them; they were soundly ostracized.

Dictionary of eponyms. . 2013.

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  • boycott — boy·cott / bȯi ˌkät/ vt: to engage in a concerted refusal to have dealings with (as a store, business, or organization) usu. to express disapproval or to force acceptance of certain conditions see also primary boycott, secondary boycott ◇ A… …   Law dictionary

  • boycott — [ bɔjkɔt ] n. m. • 1888; mot angl. ♦ Anglic. Boycottage. Le boycott des Jeux olympiques par un pays. Boycott commercial, économique. ⇒ blocus, embargo. Des boycotts. ● boycott ou boycottage nom masculin (mot anglais boycott) Action de boycotter,… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Boycott — Boy cott , v. t. [imp. & p. p. {Boycotted}; p. pr. & vb. n. {Boycotting}.] [From Captain Boycott, a land agent in Mayo, Ireland, so treated in 1880.] To combine against (a landlord, tradesman, employer, or other person), to withhold social or… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • boycott — [boi′kät΄] vt. [after Capt. C. C. Boycott, land agent ostracized by his neighbors during the Land League agitation in Ireland in 1880] 1. to join together in refusing to deal with, so as to punish, coerce, etc. 2. to refuse to buy, sell, or use… …   English World dictionary

  • boycott — 1880, noun and verb, from Irish Land League ostracism of Capt. Charles C. Boycott (1832 1897), land agent of Lough Mask in County Mayo, who refused to lower rents for his tenant farmers. Quickly adopted by newspapers in languages as far afield as …   Etymology dictionary

  • boycott — ► VERB ▪ refuse to have commercial or social dealings with (a person, organization, or country) as a punishment or protest. ► NOUN ▪ an act of boycotting. ORIGIN from Captain Charles C. Boycott, an Irish land agent so treated in 1880 in an… …   English terms dictionary

  • Boycott — Boy cott, n. The process, fact, or pressure of boycotting; a combining to withhold or prevent dealing or social intercourse with a tradesman, employer, etc.; social and business interdiction for the purpose of coercion. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Boycott — Boycott, Name eines engl. Kapitäns (gest. im Juni 1897 zu Flexton in Suffolk), der die Güter des Grafen Erne in der irischen Grafschaft Mayo verwaltete und sich durch seine Strenge gegen die Pachter so verhaßt machte, daß das Volk ihn förmlich in …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

  • Boycott — Boycott, s. Boykottieren …   Kleines Konversations-Lexikon

  • boycott — → boicot …   Diccionario panhispánico de dudas

  • boycott — [v] ban; refrain from using avoid, bar, blackball*, blacklist, brush off, cut off, embargo, exclude, hold aloof from, ice out*, ostracize, outlaw, pass by*, pass up*, prohibit, proscribe, refuse, reject, shut out*, snub, spurn, strike, withhold… …   New thesaurus