An organized severing of business and social relations with an individual or a firm in order to punish or coerce.
The practise, named from its first victim, originated in measures devised by Charles Stewart Parnell, as head of the Irish Land League, 1880, against Captain Boycott, the notoriously harsh land-agent of Lord Erne in the district of Connemara, Ireland.
It has become a common coercive measure against employers in trade disputes, or in strikes, both in England and the United States.
The morality of such a measure, if adopted through a just grievance and if unaccompanied by violence, is unquestioned, although in several states practise is held to be illegal and is prohibited by statute.
A secondary boycott, or the attempt by the same measures to force another to join in a primary boycott, is generally condemned as an infringement of one's right to free intercourse with others.
In two cases of boycotting brought before the Supreme Court, that of the Buck's Stove Company against the American Federation of Labor (1901), and that against the Danbury Hatters' Union (1908), the court declared the boycott illegal as being "in restraint of trade."
New Catholic Dictionary