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 Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for lynch law

Historical Examples of lynch law

  • That night's lynch-law in our quarters was not inquired into.

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

    A Singular Life

    Elizabeth Stuart Phelps

  • Lynch-law reached its height in the late eighties and early nineties.

    Following the Color Line

    Ray Stannard Baker

  • Well might he tremble with fear; for the Lynch-law was then in full force for criminals like him.

    The Lamplighter

    Maria S. Cummins

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

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

Culture definitions for lynch law

lynch law

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 New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.