show trial


Definition of show trial

: a trial (as of political opponents) in which the verdict is rigged and a public confession is often extracted

Examples of show trial in a Sentence

They were forced to confess their guilt in public show trials.
Recent Examples on the Web He was convicted in North Korea in March 2016 in a show trial of crimes against the state and sentenced to 15 years at hard labor. Chris Mayhew,, "Acting U.S. intelligence chief said he called Cindy Warmbier to wish Happy Mother's Day," 11 May 2020 Their public show trial forced a reckoning in Russia, an era-defining clash between Putin and a new generation of his subjects, who were rising up against his version of autocracy and demanding democratic change. Time, "100 Women of the Year," 5 Mar. 2020 The metaphor is clear: The Scottsboro Boys, cast as brutes in a show trial, were convicted not on the weight of the evidence but by the color of their skin. Andrea Simakis, cleveland, "Kander and Ebb’s ‘The Scottsboro Boys’ at the Beck Center entrances as it weaves its story of savage racial injustice," 16 Feb. 2020 This is a show trial with a twist—a public ritual not of preordained condemnation but of preordained exoneration. Fintan O’toole, The New York Review of Books, "Whatever He Wants," 30 Jan. 2020 After a show trial, Khodorkovsky was sent to prison, while the state seized control of his by-then-profitable oil company, Yukos. David Klion, The New Republic, "Citizen K Captures the Rise and Fall of an Oligarch," 22 Jan. 2020 In this way, Richard Jewell brings edifying contrast to the current impeachment show trials. Armond White, National Review, "Richard Jewell Is Eastwood’s History of the Future," 13 Dec. 2019 In Darkness at Noon, the 1940 novel that exposed the reality of the Soviet show trials, Arthur Koestler furnished a terrifying picture of a society based on slogans universally understood to be grotesque lies. The Economist, "Open Future Is liberalism really kaput?," 4 Dec. 2019 When Christine Blasey Ford made her allegation against Brett Kavanaugh, she was met, in part, with a show trial. Megan Garber, The Atlantic, "Why Isn't a Rape Allegation Worth an Impeachment Inquiry?," 22 Nov. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'show trial.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of show trial

1928, in the meaning defined above

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The first known use of show trial was in 1928

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Last Updated

18 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Show trial.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 14 Jul. 2020.

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show trial


English Language Learners Definition of show trial

: a trial in a court of law in which the verdict has been decided in advance

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