witch-hunt

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See also: witchhunt and witch hunt

English[edit]

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Etymology[edit]

From witch +‎ hunt.

Pronunciation[edit]

Noun[edit]

witch-hunt (plural witch-hunts)

  1. (now chiefly historical) A search for people believed to be using sorcery or harmful magic, especially in order to punish them.
    • 1885, H. Rider Haggard, King Solomon's Mines:
      To-night ye will see. It is the great witch-hunt, and many will be smelt out as wizards and slain.
    • 2017, Ronald Hutton, The Witch, Yale University Press 2018, p. 27:
      The rupturing of British rule over India in the rebellion of 1857 permitted a great witch-hunt, with lethal effects, to occur among the tribes of northern India.
  2. An attempt to find and publicly punish a group of people perceived as a threat, usually on ideological or political grounds.
    • 1938, George Orwell, Homage to Catalonia:
      Rank-and-file Communists everywhere are led away on a senseless witch-hunt after 'Trotskyists'.
  3. A public smear-campaign against an individual.

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