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 Peace came when, during the historic 1994 elections, the IFP at the last minute reversed a threat to boycott the vote. Amy Cassidy, CNN, 9 Sep. 2023 That move was opposed by certain Korean industry guilds, which threatened to boycott the festival in support of Huh. Patrick Frater, Variety, 6 Sep. 2023 Spain’s soccer chief could be ousted after kiss sparks boycott. Beatriz Ríos, Washington Post, 1 Sep. 2023 His decision to boycott was nonetheless a blow to the network, which had wooed him privately and publicly to appear. Sara Burnett, ajc, 24 Aug. 2023 The company's second-quarter report showed revenue fell by 10%, a loss of $400 million, along with a 14% drop in retail as its customer base began to boycott. Jenny Goldsberry, Washington Examiner, 18 Aug. 2023 Many of the country’s top medical and law schools have chosen to boycott the list, including Brown University’s medical school. Emily Sweeney,, 30 Aug. 2023 The Nigerian team, which made the Round of 16, reportedly considered boycotting its opening game in protest over outstanding payments the players say they are owed. Louisa Thomas, The New Yorker, 28 Aug. 2023 In 2012, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals opened a West Coast headquarters in Echo Park named after Barker, a frequent advocate for many of PETA’s causes, including boycotting SeaWorld and improving animal welfare on movie sets. Dennis McLellan, Los Angeles Times, 26 Aug. 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 1 Oct. 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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