Entry in progress—B.P.
A boycott is a form of consumer activism involving the act of voluntarily abstaining from using, buying, or dealing with someone or some other organization as an expression of protest, usually of political reasons.
The word boycott entered the English language during the Irish “Land War” and is derived from the name of Captain Charles Boycott, the estate agent of an absentee landlord, the Earl Erne, in County Mayo, Ireland, who was subject to social ostracism organized by the Irish Land League in 1880. In September that year protesting tenants demanded from Boycott a substantial reduction in their rents. He not only refused but also evicted them from the land. Charles Stewart Parnell, in his Ennis Speech proposed that, rather than resorting to violence, everyone in the locality should refuse to deal with him. Despite the short-term economic hardship to those undertaking this action, Boycott soon found himself isolated—his workers stopped work in the fields and stables, as well as the house. Local businessmen stopped trading with him, and the local postman refused to deliver mail.
The concerted action taken against him meant that Boycott was unable to hire anyone to harvest the crops in his charge. Eventually 50 Orangemen from Cavan and Monaghan volunteered to harvest his crops. They were escorted to and from Claremorris by one thousand policemen and soldiers—this despite the fact that Boycott’s complete social ostracism meant that he was actually in no danger of being harmed. Moreover, this protection ended up costing far more than the harvest was worth. After the harvest, the “boycott” was successfully continued. Within weeks Boycott’s name was everywhere. It was used by The Times in November 1880 as a term for organized isolation. According to an account in the book “The Fall of Feudalism in Ireland” by Michael Davitt, the term was coined by Fr. John O’Malley of County Mayo to “signify ostracism applied to a landlord or agent like Boycott”. The Times first reported on November 20, 1880: “The people of New Pallas have resolved to ‘boycott’ them and refused to supply them with food or drink.” The Daily News wrote on December 13, 1880: “Already the stoutest-hearted are yielding on every side to the dread of being ‘Boycotted’.” By January of the following year, the word was being used figuratively: “Dame Nature arose.... She ‘Boycotted’ London from Kew to Mile End” (The Spectator, January 22, 1881).
On December 1, 1880 Captain Boycott left his post and withdrew to England, with his family.
Examples of boycotts
Although the term itself was not coined until 1880, the practice dates back to at least 1830, when the National Negro Convention encouraged a boycott of slave-produced goods. Other instances of boycotts are their use by African Americans during the US civil rights movement (notably the Montgomery Bus Boycott); the United Farm Workers union grape and lettuce boycotts; the American boycott of British goods at the time of the American Revolution; the Indian boycott of British goods organized by Mohandas Gandhi; the successful Jewish boycott organised against Henry Ford in the USA, in the 1920s; the boycott of Japanese products in China after the May Fourth Movement; the Jewish anti-Nazi boycott of German goods in Lithuania, the USA, Britain and Poland during 1933; the antisemitic boycott of Jewish-owned businesses in Nazi Germany during the 1930s and the Arab League boycott of Israel and companies trading with Israel. In 1973, the Arab countries enacted a crude oil embargo against the West, see 1973 oil crisis. Other examples include the US-led boycott of the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow, the Soviet-led boycott of the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, and the movement that advocated “disinvestment” in South Africa during the 1980s in opposition to that country’s apartheid regime. The first Olympic boycott was in the 1956 Summer Olympics with several countries boycotting the games for different reasons. Iran also has an informal Olympic boycott against participating against Israel, and Iranian athletes typically bow out or claim injuries when pitted against Israelis (see Arash Miresmaeili).
American track star Lacey O’Neal coined the term girlcott in the context of the protests by male African American athletes during the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City. Speaking for Black women athletes, she advised that the group would not “girlcott” the Olympic Games as they were still focused on being recognized. “Girlcott” appeared in Time magazine in 1970, and then later was used by retired tennis player Billie Jean King in The Times in reference to Wimbledon to emphasize her argument regarding equal pay for women players.
Application and uses
A boycott is normally considered a one-time affair designed to correct an outstanding single wrong. When extended for a long period of time, or as part of an overall program of awareness-raising or reforms to laws or regimes, a boycott is part of moral purchasing, and those economic or political terms are to be preferred.
Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary
Main Entry: boy·cott
Function: transitive verb
Etymology: Charles C. Boycott †1897 English land agent in Ireland who was ostracized for refusing to reduce rents
: to engage in a concerted refusal to have dealings with (as a person, store, or organization) usually to express disapproval or to force acceptance of certain conditions
— boycott noun
— boy·cott·er noun
(Oxford English Dictionary)
[< the name of Captain Charles C. Boycott (1832-97), a land agent in Ireland, who was a prominent early recipient of such treatment (with the encouragement of the Irish Land League) in the autumn of 1880. See, for example:
1880 Freeman’s Jrnl. (Dublin) 25 Sept. 6/8 The multitude..rushed to Loughmask House, the residence of Captain Boycott, the agent on the estate, and the party against whom the popular ire was chiefly directed, and in a very short time every labourer and servant employed on or around the place was driven off and cautioned not to work there again.
The word was rapidly adopted in many other European languages, e.g. French boycotter (1880), German boycottieren (1893; now boykottieren), Dutch boycotten (1904), Russian bojkotirovat’ (1891), etc.]
1. trans. Of tenants in Ireland: to isolate and ostracize (a landlord or land agent, or anyone not participating in such action) socially and commercially, by withholding labour, the supply of food, custom, etc., in order to protest at the eviction of tenants, secure a reduction in rents, etc. Now hist.
1880 Glasgow Herald 1 Nov. 5/5 He [sc. Mr Savelle] advised the people to ‘Boycott’ any man who betrayed them by taking such land.
1880 Birmingham Daily Post 13 Nov. 5/6 Mr. Patrick Fergus, merchant, Ballinrobe, has been ‘Boycotted’ to use the local term.
2. trans. gen. To withdraw from commercial or social interaction with (a group, nation, person, etc.) as a protest or punishment; to refuse to handle or buy (goods), or refuse to participate in (an event, meeting, etc.), as a protest. Also fig.
1880 Illustr. London News 18 Dec. 587/1 To ‘Boycott’ has already become a verb active, signifying to ‘ratten’, to intimidate, to ‘send to Coventry’, and to ‘taboo’.
1881 Q. Rev. 117 The lineal ancestors of the Land League ‘boycotted’ the poet.
1881 Spectator 22 Jan. 119 Dame Nature arose..She ‘Boycotted’ London from Kew to Mile End.
1882 L. STEPHEN Swift vii. 157 Briefly, the half-pence were to be ‘Boycotted’.
1908 Westm. Gaz. 20 Aug. 2/1 The local Labour Party is inclined to boycott preference voting.
1928 G. B. SHAW Intell. Woman’s Guide Socialism I. 218 Boycotting the Churches as mere contrivances for doping the workers into submission to Capitalism.
(Oxford English Dictionary)
Withdrawal from social or commercial interaction or cooperation with a group, nation, person, etc., intended as a protest or punishment. Now usually as a count noun: an instance of this; (also) a refusal to buy certain goods or participate in a particular event, as a form of protest or punishment.
Originally in the context of land disputes in Ireland: see BOYCOTT v. 1.
1880 Times 9 Dec. 10/2 They also do not feel warranted in regarding the threat of ‘Boycott’ as one which comes within the Act.
1885 Pall Mall Gaz. 19 Nov. 3/2 Those who have continued to hire Chinese labour and patronize the same since the Boycott.
1919 G. B. SHAW Peace Conf. Hints vi. 84 Such widely advocated and little thought-out ‘sanctions’ as the outlawry and economic boycott of a recalcitrant nation.
1941 Amer. Polit. Sci. Rev. 35 495 Organized social compulsion imposed both private and governmental boycott on non-complying employers.
(Oxford English Dictionary)
[< GIRL n. + -cott (in BOYCOTT v.), with BOYCOTT v. being humorously understood as showing BOY n.1]
trans. Of a woman or group of women: to boycott.
1884 Argus (New Philadelphia, Ohio) 3 Apr. 3/7 The young women..have resolved to girlcott any young man that smokes or goes out of the theatre between acts.
1943 Kingsport (Tennessee) News (Electronic text) 12 July, The Cabinet wives girlcotted Peggy and lobbied at Jackson until the Secretary was forced to resign.
1987 K. LETTE Girls’ Night Out (1989) 215 Julia wears no make-up, always meets her journalistic deadlines, girl-cotts products from South Africa.
2001 F. POPCORN & A. HANFT Dict. Future 192 Female tennis players have considered, but have not yet girlcotted, Grand Slam events that award more prize money to men.
(Oxford English Dictionary)
[< GIRLCOTT v., after BOYCOTT n.]
A boycott carried out by a woman or group of women.
1891 Mountain Democrat (Placerville, Calif.) (Electronic text) 5 Sept., Port Huron is said to have a girlcott—i.e. the marriageable young women have combined against the boys. The girlcott will end by the girls getting married.
1966 Times 14 Nov. 11/2 Housewives have been banding togetherin a grand girlcott as it has been called—to picket stores that offer trading stamps and other inducements to buy that seem to bear no relation to the price or quality of the goods.
2006 National NOW Times Fall 2/1 We were inspired by the Pittsburgh high schoolers..who had grabbed headlines and kudos last fall with their ‘girlcott’ of insulting t-shirts made by clothier Abercrombie & Fitch.
New York City • Government/Law/Military/Religion /Health • (1) Comments • Wednesday, September 09, 2009 • Permalink