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The Origin Of The Word 'boycott'. by Taamas222 (f): 3:32pm on May 29
Junior Taamas
, Nigeria.
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We’ve all heard of boycotting events or places
– in today’s world anyone will boycott anything
for any reason!

There’s boycotts at sport events, boycotts of
TV shows, movies, political rallies – everything!

Although, when you think about it, “boycott” is
a little bit of a strange word. How does the
word relate to the action of not attending or
doing something? Of isolating or ignoring

Just as strange, the word “boycott” doesn’t
really hold any similarities to other words.
So, where did the word “boycott” come from?
Well, let’s take it back to 1880 to find out.

Captain Charles Boycott

During the Irish “Land War” of the late 1800s,
a British Captain by the name of Charles
Boycott was the land agent of an absentee
landlord called Lord Erne in County Mayo,

In 1880, after a year of bad harvests, Lord
Erne – thinking himself a generous man –
offered his tenants a 10% reduction in their
rents. However, his tenants didn’t think this to
be enough of a reduction, so they protested
and demanded a 25% reduction.

Lord Erne refused this, dispatching his trusty
land agent Captain Charles Boycott to evict the
revolting tenants.

Shortly before this happened, a member of the
Irish Land League known as Charles Stewart
Parnell had proposed dealing with landlords
and land agents through a peaceful form of
social ostracism, rather than resorting to

Parnell proposed those in the local community
should simply ignore the offender and conduct no business with them.

Boycotting Boycott

Soon after the news of Charles Boycott’s
eviction drives spread, he found himself
isolated within the local community.

Despite the short-term economic strife it
bought them, his workers stopped working in
his fields and stables, as well as at his house.

Local businessmen stopped trading with him
and even the local postman refused to deliver
his mail!

Because of the action taken against him,
Boycott was facing financial peril as nobody
would take on the job of harvesting his crops.

Eventually, he hired 50 men from further out
areas to come harvest the crops. He paid for
an escort of 1,000 armed policemen and
soldiers to bring them to his estate.

However, the Irish Land League’s promise of
no violence had been 100% genuine as no
violent action was taken against Boycott or his
hired guns and workers. The cost of Boycott’s
protection for his harvesters has cost far more
than the harvest had been worth, leaving him
at a great financial loss.

After the harvest, the boycott on Boycott
successfully continued.

Going Old-Timey Viral

It didn’t take long for the press to pick up on
the boycott, and within a matter of mere
weeks Boycott’s name was everywhere!

James Redpath of the New York Tribune was
the first person to use the word in
international press shortly after the incident,
and The Times used the term to describe an
organized isolation in November of 1880.

By 1881, the term “boycott” was now being
used to describe things figuratively, with one
article in The Spectator describing how nature
had “Boycotted London from Kew to Mile End”.

Less than a year after the boycott on Boycott,
the word was a staple of the English language

So there you have it, the interesting and very
unique origins of the word boycott! It’s rather
interesting just how the use of the word and
the use of boycotting itself have stayed so very
similar to their origins throughout the years!

Make sure to tell all your friends the source of
the word “boycott” the next time you hear
them mention it!


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