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lynch law

the administration of summary punishment, especially death, upon a suspected, accused, or convicted person by a mob acting without legal process or authority.
Origin of lynch law
1805-15, Americanism; after the self-instituted tribunals presided over by William Lynch (1742-1820) of Pittsylvania, Va., c1776 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2016.
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Examples from the Web for lynch-law
Historical Examples
  • lynch-law reached its height in the late eighties and early nineties.

    Following the Color Line Ray Stannard Baker
  • That night's lynch-law in our quarters was not inquired into.

    In the Foreign Legion Erwin Rosen
  • Much may be said in favor of Goldwin Smith's quotation, "that there are communities in which lynch-law is better than any other."

  • Well have lynch-law here in just about ten minutes, if you aint spry.

    A Singular Life Elizabeth Stuart Phelps
  • Well might he tremble with fear; for the lynch-law was then in full force for criminals like him.

    The Lamplighter Maria S. Cummins
  • lynch-law was as popular in the West as it is to-day in the South, and a mob broke into the jail and killed the Smith brothers.

    The Greater Republic Charles Morris
  • lynch-law hadn't begun, and there wuz rows and fights of the wust kind.

    Redskin and Cow-Boy G. A. (George Alfred) Henty
  • Mob′-law, lynch-law; Moboc′racy, rule or ascendency exercised by the mob; Mob′ocrat, a demagogue.

  • He was never heard of more; but should he ever turn up anywhere, I commend him as the fittest subject for lynch-law on record.

    A Trip to Cuba Julia Ward Howe
  • A great deal has been said and written lately about feuds and lynch-law in the districts around the lower Mississippi.

British Dictionary definitions for lynch-law

lynch law

the practice of condemning and punishing a person by mob action without a proper trial
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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lynch-law in Culture

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.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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