Fun fact: there is no boy in boycott. It's actually named after a person, Charles Boycott, who was a bit of a jerk. An Englishman in that gruesome time before Ireland was independent, he tried to evict a bunch of sharecroppers and had it backfire on him. The Irish Land League was infuriated and got everyone in the area to shun Boycott, leaving him without any tenants and no way to farm his fields. He tried to flee America, but even people over there heard about what had happened and gave him a rough time. Satisfied in their new tactic, the Irish Land League and several other organizations starting giving people the cold shoulder more often, and used Boycott's name as a verb for the action. Ironically, when feminists started boycotting things in the '60s and '70s, they called them girlcotts, which really makes no etymological sense.
5/3/2018 01:46:41 pm
Fascinating. I had no idea, and I'm old. Will be sure not to use the word girlcott from now on!
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Hello! I'm Adam Aleksic, a senior studying government and linguistics at Harvard University, where I co-founded the Harvard Undergraduate Linguistics Society. In addition to etymology, I also really enjoy trivia, politics, vexillology, geography, board games, conlanging, art history, and law.