The word lynch was coined in 1835, and that was an alteration of the legal term lynch law, which referred to justice in any form and didn't necessarily have anything to do with hanging people. This, etymologists concur, was definitely named after someone, but etymologists can't concur who. Some think it was William Lynch, who was some guy from Virginia during the Revolutionary War. Other hypothesize it was Charles Lynch, who was some guy from Virginia during the Revolutionary War. Yes, that's right, but let's get serious. It could've been William because he led some posses against the British, but it also could've been Charles, because he was more famous, yet had less of a violent role, holding court sessions against Loyalists. Whoever it was, Lynch is a corruption of an Irish name, O'Loingsigh, which, if you go far back enough, means "seafarer".
Adam Aleksic is a 220-month-old, 2800-ounce high school senior with disturbing interests in etymology, vexillology, geography, board games, limericks, and law. Adam will be studying linguistics at Harvard College in the fall.
The Etymology Nerd