Share this entry

lynch Line breaks: lynch
Pronunciation: /lɪn(t)ʃ/

Definition of lynch in English:


[with object]
(Of a group of people) kill (someone) for an alleged offence without a legal trial, especially by hanging: her father had been lynched by whites (as noun lynching) in that year there were twenty-six lynchings of blacks in the USA
More example sentences
  • Angry mobs lynching someone suspected of murder is wrong, even if that person is actually guilty.
  • Blake was accused of killing his wife, and they want to lynch him.
  • If you just grabbed an unconvicted murderer off the street and lynched him, you would be a murderer in your own right.
hang, hang by the neck;
execute, put to death, kill, murder
informal string up, do in, bump off, knock off
literary slay
rare gibbet


Mid 19th century: from Lynch's law, named after Capt. William Lynch, head of a self-constituted judicial tribunal in Virginia circa1780.

  • During the War of American Independence ( 1775–83) a Captain William Lynch of Pittsville, Virginia, headed a self-constituted court with no legal authority which persecuted ‘Tories’, or people who supported the British side. People called this illegal punishment Lynch's law or lynch law. The penalties handed out were beatings or tarring and feathering, but by the mid 19th century to lynch a supposed offender was generally to hang him.



Example sentences
  • Likewise, the collective anonymity of the executioners ensured that few lynchers were ever prosecuted.
  • But federal investigations into lynchings could only concentrate on trying to prove that the lynchers had violated their victims' civil rights.
  • In effect, lynchers could go about their horrific deeds with the protection of the law and little fear of retribution.

Words that rhyme with lynch

cinch, clinch, finch, flinch, inch, Minch, pinch, squinch, winch

Definition of lynch in:

Share this entry


What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.

Get more from Oxford Dictionaries

Subscribe to remove adverts and access premium resources

Word of the day doofus
Pronunciation: ˈduːfʌs
a stupid person