• synonyms


See more synonyms on Thesaurus.com
verb (used with object)
  1. to put to death, especially by hanging, by mob action and without legal authority.

Origin of lynch

1825–35, Americanism; v. use of lynch in lynch law
Related formslynch·er, nounan·ti·lynch·ing, adjective
Can be confusedhang lynch (see synonym study at hang)

Synonym study

See hang.


  1. JohnJack, 1917–1999, Irish political leader: prime minister 1966–73, 1977–79.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for lynch

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • Still one cannot deny that fancy is too prominent in Mr. Lynch's writings.

    A Dish Of Orts

    George MacDonald

  • God help us, for I don't see any safety for this country 'cept Judge Lynch.

  • In another country we know Judge Lynch would preside at their trial.

  • But spite of all your tricks, it Is not in you Judge Lynch to do.

    The Bon Gaultier Ballads

    William Edmonstoune Aytoun

  • After all, there was no sense in making an enemy out of Lynch.

    Out Like a Light

    Gordon Randall Garrett

British Dictionary definitions for lynch


  1. (tr) (of a mob) to punish (a person) for some supposed offence by hanging without a trial
Derived Formslyncher, nounlynching, noun

Word Origin

probably after Charles Lynch (1736–96), Virginia justice of the peace, who presided over extralegal trials of Tories during the American War of Independence


  1. David. born 1946, US film director; his work includes the films Eraserhead (1977), Blue Velvet (1986), Wild at Heart (1990), Mulholland Drive (2001), and Inland Empire (2006), and the television series Twin Peaks (1990)
  2. John, known as Jack Lynch. 1917–99, Irish statesman; prime minister of the Republic of Ireland (1966–73; 1977–79)
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

Word Origin and History for lynch


1835, from earlier Lynch law (1811), likely named after William Lynch (1742-1820) of Pittsylvania, Virginia, who c.1780 led a vigilance committee to keep order there during the Revolution. Other sources trace the name to Charles Lynch (1736-1796) a Virginia magistrate who fined and imprisoned Tories in his district c.1782, but the connection to him is less likely. Originally any sort of summary justice, especially by flogging; narrowing of focus to "extralegal execution by hanging" is 20c. Lynch mob is attested from 1838. The surname is perhaps from Irish Loingseach "sailor." Cf. earlier Lydford law, from a place in Dartmoor, England, "where was held a Stannaries Court of summary jurisdiction" [Weekley], hence:

Lydford law: is to hang men first, and indite them afterwards. [Thomas Blount, "Glossographia," 1656]

Related: Lynched; lynching.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper