[linch] /lɪntʃ/

verb (used with object)
to put to death, especially by hanging, by mob action and without legal authority.
(transitive) (of a mob) to punish (a person) for some supposed offence by hanging without a trial
David. born 1946, US film director; his work includes the films Eraserhead (1977), Blue Velvet (1986), Wild at Heart (1990), Mulholland Drive (2001), and Inland Empire (2006), and the television series Twin Peaks (1990)
John, known as Jack Lynch. 1917–99, Irish statesman; prime minister of the Republic of Ireland (1966–73; 1977–79)

1835, from earlier Lynch law (1811), likely named after William Lynch (1742-1820) of Pittsylvania, Virginia, who c.1780 led a vigilance committee to keep order there during the Revolution. Other sources trace the name to Charles Lynch (1736-1796) a Virginia magistrate who fined and imprisoned Tories in his district c.1782, but the connection to him is less likely. Originally any sort of summary justice, especially by flogging; narrowing of focus to “extralegal execution by hanging” is 20c. Lynch mob is attested from 1838. The surname is perhaps from Irish Loingseach “sailor.” Cf. earlier Lydford law, from a place in Dartmoor, England, “where was held a Stannaries Court of summary jurisdiction” [Weekley], hence:

Lydford law: is to hang men first, and indite them afterwards. [Thomas Blount, “Glossographia,” 1656]

Related: Lynched; lynching.


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