• boycott •
Pronunciation: boy-kaht • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Verb, Noun
Meaning: To refuse to do business with an organization to protest its policy or punish that organization for the policy.
Notes: Today's word has a small but healthy family. Someone who boycotts is a boycotter, while the use of boycotts to advance a cause is boycottism. This word may be used noun, as a boycott of theaters showing Disney movies. Remember the double T at the end of this word or you'll be talking about a small bed for a boy.
In Play: Highly organized boycotts usually make the papers: "Local Women Boycott Footwear Manufacturer Over Leaky Boots." (Or should they have said Girlcott?) Of course, lesser boycotts that do not make the papers erupt from time to time: "Mama! I'm boycotting dinner until you serve us pizza!" (That is what is called an 'empty threat'.)
Word History: Charles Cunningham Boycott (1832-97) was an estate manager whose name is the eponym of what is now the common noun boycott. After retiring from the British Army in 1873, Boycott became manager of the Earl of Erne's estates in County Mayo, Ireland. In 1880 an Irish land-reform group told Boycott to reduce rents by 25%; Boycott instead attempted to evict tenants who asked for the reduction. Charles Stewart Parnell, leader of reform group, urged tenants not to cooperate with those who refused to lower rents. Boycott's tenants responded with an action that lent his name to the political action of mass resistance to perceived injustice. In Japanese the word is boikotto. (We hope Jackie Strauss never boycotts us but rather continues sending us such Good Words as today's.)