Benjamin Barrett gogaku at IX.NETCOM.COM
Sun Jul 21 18:00:51 UTC 2002

I first came across the broader meaning of lynch in Japanese where
rinchi is used that way. Webster's 1913 ed.
( says

Lynch (?), v. t. [imp. & p. p. Lynched (?); p. pr. & vb. n.
Lynching.] [See Note under Lynch law.] To inflict punishment upon,
especially death, without the forms of law, as when a mob captures
and hangs a suspected person. See Lynch law.

In the second edition, the definition of inflicting punishment is

to kill (an accused person) by mob action and without lawful trial,
as by hanging, usually in defiance of local authority.

Since the first meaning is being used today, perhaps this word has
widened and narrowed in scope over the years, or its actual range of
meaning gone unnoticed for several decades. My American Heritage
third edition does not include the wider scope.

How about newer dictionaries?

Benjamin Barrett

> -----Original Message-----
> From: American Dialect Society
> [mailto:ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU]On Behalf Of Rick H Kennerly

> But this article made me aware that I carry with me a
> rather narrow view of
> the term lynching, shaped, I suppose, by too many
> westerns.  While I
> understand it to be an extralegal mob action to hang a
> person (with overt
> racial overtone outside of western movies), the article
> uses it for ANY
> extralegal mob killing based on race, making the terrible
> dragging-behind-a-pickup-truck death of James Byrd up in
> Jasper, Texas, a
> lynching by this standard.  While I was aware there were
> a lot of terrible
> ways for a mob to kill a black, I'd just never come
> across the term used
> outside of a hanging.  What's the etymology of
> lynch/lynched/lynching?  And
> who was Lynch? or does it derive from Linch--a ledge or a
> right-angled
> projection?

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