lynch law

lynch law

noun
the administration of summary punishment, especially death, upon a suspected, accused, or convicted person by a mob acting without legal process or authority.

Origin:
1805–15, Americanism; after the self-instituted tribunals presided over by William Lynch (1742–1820) of Pittsylvania, Va., c1776

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World English Dictionary
lynch law
 
n
the practice of condemning and punishing a person by mob action without a proper trial

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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Cultural Dictionary

lynch law definition


The punishment of supposed criminals, especially by hanging, by agreement of a crowd and without a genuine criminal trial. Lynch law was used in the early settlement of the West as a way of maintaining minimal law and order before a sheriff and courts could be set up. It has also been used to deprive unpopular suspects of their rights and to satisfy a mob's thirst for vengeance. Lynch law was often used by whites in the South to terrorize and subjugate blacks.

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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