Definition of boycott in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈboiˌkät/


[with object]
1Withdraw from commercial or social relations with (a country, organization, or person) as a punishment or protest.
Example sentences
  • The Israeli academic establishment boycotted him.
  • The National Rifle Association then boycotted the company, devastating its stock price and destroying the proposed settlement.
  • The European Union quickly imposed sanctions on Austria, and numerous private organizations and individuals began to boycott the country.
spurn, snub, shun, avoid, abstain from, wash one's hands of, turn one's back on, reject, veto
1.1Refuse to buy or handle (goods) as a punishment or protest.
Example sentences
  • 50% said that boycotting Japanese goods will not create enough pressure on the Japanese government
  • There's news trickling in about Americans boycotting German goods.
  • Australian dockyard workers boycotted Dutch goods to be shipped to Indonesia to assist their military operations to gain back their colony.
1.2Refuse to cooperate with or participate in (a policy or event).
Example sentences
  • Outraged that the Wakefield campaign was going to get even more publicity, a number of leading authorities, who had been invited to participate, decided to boycott the debate.
  • In the second case, given the high turnout and the low rank of their candidate, the participation of those who boycotted the elections wouldn't have changed the results in any reasonable expectation.
  • Blaming what it said were hostile U.S. policies, North Korea boycotted a meeting that was to have been held in September.


A punitive ban that forbids relations with certain groups, cooperation with a policy, or the handling of goods.
Example sentences
  • Two Australian wool bodies have approached the boycott in very different ways.
  • I have e-mailed the company and also copied my message to the financial investors for the Body Shop, stating that I will begin a boycott of Body Shop products effective immediately.
  • Independent Financial Advisers who sell its policies have threatened boycotts.
ban, veto, embargo, prohibition, sanction, restriction;
avoidance, rejection, refusal


From the name of Captain C. C. Boycott (1832–97), an English land agent in Ireland, so treated in 1880, in an attempt instigated by the Irish to get rents reduced.

  • In Ireland during the late 19th century the Irish Land League was campaigning for lower rents and land reform. One of its tactics was to ostracize people, refusing to have any dealings with them. In September 1880 a land agent called Captain Charles C. Boycott became one of the first to be shunned in this way and boycott was born. Newspapers took up the term immediately and enthusiastically, and other European languages quickly borrowed it. French, for example, has boycotter, Dutch has boycotten, and German boycottiren.

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: boy·cott

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