• synonyms

Salem witch trials

Trials held in Salem, Massachusetts, in 1692 that led to the execution of twenty people for allegedly practicing witchcraft. The trials are noted for the hysterical atmosphere in which they were conducted; many townspeople were widely suspected of witchcraft on flimsy evidence.

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When people are quick to accuse one another of serious misdeeds on inadequate evidence, the situation is often compared to the Salem witch trials.


A “witch hunt” is a political campaign launched under the pretext of investigating activities considered subversive by the state.
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.