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Word for the Wise March 12, 2007 Broadcast Topic: Boycott

Charles Cunningham Boycott was born in England on this date in 1832. His early life excited little notice; Boycott the boy grew up to become a captain in the British army and then a land agent managing the estate of Lord Erne in County Mayo in the west of Ireland. That's when things began to get interesting. (来源:www.EnglishCN.com)

Times were tough for tenant farmers in the1870s. In 1879, after more than 10,000 farmers met in a series of meetings to discuss their future, the Irish National Land League was established with two stated goals: to facilitate ownership of the soil by those who worked it; and to reduce rents paid by tenant farmers.

In 1880, Lord Erne—and his agent, Charles Boycott—were selected as a test case by the Land League. Asked to reduce rents on the lands in Mayo, Boycott refused. He and his family found themselves ostracized, unable to find service in stores, hire servants, or transact simple business. More importantly from the landlord's perspective, no one would harvest the crops.

It took months, but eventually 50 workers were imported to harvest the potatoes under the protection of the militia. But for the name Boycott it was too late: that surname had developed into a transitive verb with the meaning "to engage in a concerted refusal to have dealings with a person, store, or organization, usually to express disapproval or to force acceptance of certain conditions."

 
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