Witch hunt

Witch hunt is an idiom that is hundreds of years old. We will examine the meaning of the common idiom witch hunt, where it came from, and some examples of its idiomatic usage in sentences.

A witch hunt is an attempt to blame or punish someone who has an unpopular view or takes an unpopular stance. A witch hunt involves searching out, harassing, defaming, and punishing someone because he is different. A witch hunt is more than an attempt to unfairly punish someone; it involves frightening people until they engage in mob behavior. The term witch-hunting has been in use since the 1600s in a literal sense; however, the term took on a figurative, idiomatic meaning in the early 20th century, primarily in reference to political ideas. George Orwell used the term in the 1930s and the popularity of the term soared in the 1950s in reference to the McCarthy hearings on un-American activities. Arthur Miller wrote a play, The Crucible, which was set during the Salem witch trials but was in reality his commentary on the efforts of the McCarthy hearings. It may be the symbolism in this play that solidified the idiomatic use of the term witch hunt.

Examples

“My view of this whole thing is that it is turning into a witch hunt directed at the police department by a few individuals,” Hicks wrote in a four-page letter to city leaders. (Cordova Times)

Clare GAA secretary Pat Fitzgerald has hit out at a perceived “witch-hunt” that is brewing within the Association. (Clare Echo)

In its anti-Trump witch hunt, the media managed to popularize speculations that weren’t true. (Bozeman Daily Chronicle)

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