boy·​cott ˈbȯi-ˌkät How to pronounce boycott (audio)
boycotted; boycotting; boycotts

transitive verb

: to engage in a concerted refusal to have dealings with (a person, a store, an organization, etc.) usually to express disapproval or to force acceptance of certain conditions
boycotting American products
boycott noun
boycotter noun

Did you know?

In the 1870s, Irish farmers faced an agricultural crisis that threatened to result in a repeat of the terrible famine and mass evictions of the 1840s. Anticipating financial ruin, they formed a Land League to campaign against the rent increases and evictions landlords were imposing as a result of the crisis. When retired British army captain Charles Boycott, acting as an agent for an absentee landlord, tried to evict tenant farmers for refusing to pay their rent, he was ostracized by the League and community. His laborers and servants quit, and the crops in his care began to rot. Boycott’s fate was soon well known, and his name became a byword for that particular protest strategy, both as a verb and as a noun. Across the Atlantic three-quarters of a century later, boycotts such as the Montgomery bus boycott were pivotal components of the Civil Rights Movement in the United States.

Examples of boycott in a Sentence

plans to boycott American products They boycotted the city's bus system. We boycotted companies that were polluting the environment.
Recent Examples on the Web That high profile has been harder to maintain over the last couple of years, given that the mainland Chinese industry is under government instruction to boycott the event, following a pro-independence speech given by an award winner at the 2018 ceremony. Patrick Frater, Variety, 25 Nov. 2023 Ian also shared personal stories from another half-dozen locals boycotting the companies. Sammy Roth, Los Angeles Times, 14 Nov. 2023 The Philly Palestine Coalition justifies its call to boycott by asserting the identical rationale used by those who justify Hamas’s violence on Oct. 7. WSJ, 9 Nov. 2023 Israel’s supporters see calls to drop Nimbus, and other efforts to boycott the country, as hostile to the Jewish state. Mike Isaac, New York Times, 8 Nov. 2023 The message from the union triggered calls to boycott Starbucks, when some appeared to mistake the union's position for that of the company. Max Zahn, ABC News, 6 Nov. 2023 In his 2016 Oscars monologue, Rock joked about Pinkett Smith boycotting the awards show by quipping that she wouldn’t have been invited. Ryan Gajewski, The Hollywood Reporter, 12 Oct. 2023 Bud Light is already trying to lure back customers who are boycotting the brand, signing a sponsorship deal with UFC that’s said to be in the $100 million range and working closer with the NFL. Chris Morris, Fortune, 16 Nov. 2023 Santa Barbara County residents are boycotting two of the world’s largest carrot-growing companies — a response to Grimmway Farms and Boathouse Farms suing other local property owners to try to secure their groundwater pumping rights, The Times’ Ian James reports. Sammy Roth, Los Angeles Times, 14 Nov. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'boycott.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Charles C. Boycott †1897 English land agent in Ireland who was ostracized for refusing to reduce rents

First Known Use

1880, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of boycott was in 1880


Dictionary Entries Near boycott

Cite this Entry

“Boycott.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 7 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


1 of 2 verb
: to join with others in refusing to deal with a person, organization, or country usually to express disapproval or to force acceptance of terms


2 of 2 noun
: the process or an instance of boycotting

named for Charles Boycott 1832–1897 estate manager in Ireland

Word Origin
In the autumn of 1880 there was much unrest in the Irish countryside as the result of a depression. Many farmers who did not own the land they worked were unable to pay their rent. A Land League was formed to fight eviction of tenants, and the first victim of their campaign was one Charles S. Boycott, a retired English army captain who worked as an agent for an absentee landlord in County Mayo. When this landlord's tenants refused to pay their rents unless they received a reduction, Boycott attempted to serve eviction notices. As a result, he was shunned by the community, his laborers and servants quit, and the crops on his own farm began to rot. Fifty volunteers from northern Ireland were sent to Mayo to harvest his crops, guarded by hundreds of troops and police. The new tactic of shunning a person to assert a grievance needed a name, and Boycott's name was at hand. Though the British government banned the Irish Land League, the word boycott is still part of English.

Legal Definition


transitive verb
boy·​cott ˈbȯi-ˌkät How to pronounce boycott (audio)
: to engage in a concerted refusal to have dealings with (as a store, business, or organization) usually to express disapproval or to force acceptance of certain conditions see also primary boycott, secondary boycott

Note: A boycott of a business by its competitors, suppliers, or buyers that has the effect of preventing the business's access to the market is a violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act.

boycott noun
Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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