The CBC article, “Boycotts and bans: People power or pointless?” by Daniel Lak, discusses the effectiveness of boycotts. Of course, this topic is newsworthy because an increasing number of people are suggesting the boycott of the Beijing Olympics as a response to China’s actions in Tibet.
Permit me to skip all the topical information and reproduce the first four paragraphs of the article.
Pity poor Charles Boycott.
Not only did angry farm tenants in Ireland force him to flee the country in 1880, they gave him etymological immortality.
An English soldier and land agent, Boycott tried to face down the wrath of tenant farmers who wanted lower rents on fields owned by Lord Earne in County Mayo. Boycott had the full might of the British imperial state behind him.
Instead of fighting, the tenants simply ostracized their land agent. They refused to meet him, talk to him, repair his house, work on the roads or fulfil any of their obligations under tenancy agreements. They “boycotted” Boycott, and their roaring success gave the English language a very useful word.
Cool. I love that stuff. I had no idea ‘boycott’ was an eponym.
The Wikipedia entry on the word goes in to further detail, if you’re interested.