Necktie party

Necktie party is an odious idiom that has been in use for over 100 years. An idiom is a commonly used word, group of words, or phrase that has a figurative meaning that is not easily deduced from its literal definition. Often using descriptive imagery or metaphors, common idioms are words and phrases used in the English language in order to convey a concise idea, and are often spoken or are considered informal or conversational. English idioms can illustrate emotion more quickly than a phrase that has a literal meaning, even when the etymology or origin of the idiomatic expression is lost. An idiom is a metaphorical figure of speech, and it is understood that it is not a use of literal language. Figures of speech like an often-used metaphor have definitions and connotations that go beyond the literal meaning of the words. Mastery of the turn of phrase of an idiom, which may use slang words or other parts of speech common in American slang or British slang, is essential for the English learner. Many English as a Second Language students do not understand idiomatic expressions and idiomatic language such as hit the sack, spill the beans, let the cat out of the bag, silver lining, back to the drawing board, barking up the wrong tree, kick the bucket, hit the nail on the head, face the music, under the weather, piece of cake, when pigs fly, and raining cats and dogs, because they attempt to translate them word for word, which yields only the literal meaning. English phrases that are idioms should not be taken literally. In addition to learning vocabulary and grammar, one must understand the phrasing of the figurative language of idiomatic phrases in order to know English like a native speaker; it is helpful to maintain a list of phrases, common expressions, colloquial terms, and popular expressions to memorize that are used figuratively or idiomatically. We will examine the meaning of the common saying necktie party, where it came from, and some examples of its idiomatic usage in sentences.

A necktie party is an execution by hanging or a lynching. A necktie party may refer to a lawfully sanctioned hanging, but generally, it refers to a situation in which a mob overtakes a jailer and administers its own brand of justice. The term necktie party came into use in the American Old West and originated as the term, necktie social. Interestingly, the term necktie party also referred to a type of social event in the 1800s in which neckties were auctioned off for charity. The term necktie party has been in use since the 1870s.


If it happened that a “renegade” got into the community, committing theft or other misdeeds, “there was a necktie party held.” (Madera Tribune)

The legislators held a figurative necktie party today for the state’s top doctor.  (Arkansas Times)

The following day a mob, encouraged to “join the necktie party,” broke into the jail, ripped Elias Clayton, Elmer Jackson, and Isaac McGhie from their cells, beat them and dragged them one block to the lamppost and hanged them, before posing for a postcard photo. (Minneapolis Star Tribune)

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