The definition of a witch hunt is a situation where accusations are made freely, especially against someone or something that is not popular with the majority.
An example of a witch hunt is when many women were burned at the stake in Cambridge Massachusetts.
an investigation carried out ostensibly to uncover disloyalty, subversive political activity, etc., usually conducted with much publicity and often relying upon inconclusive evidence and capitalizing on public fear of unpopular opinions
also written witch′-hunt·
Origin of witch huntso called in allusion to the historical persecutions of persons alleged to be witches
also witch hunt
An investigation carried out ostensibly to uncover subversive activities but actually used to harass and undermine those with differing views.
(plural witch hunts)
- Alternative form of witch-hunt.
- (historical) A search for witches, persons believed to be using sorcery or harmful magic, in order to persecute and typically kill them.
- An attempt to find and publicly punish a group of people perceived as a threat, usually on ideological or political grounds.
- A public smear-campaign against an individual.
- witch + hunt
- The verbal noun witch-hunting in the literal sense from 1640, the metaphorical sense from 1932, popularized during the Cold War anti-Communist hysteria in the USA.
- The noun witch-hunt itself in the literal sense dates to 1885, in the metaphorical sense to 1938. The sense of a campaign against a single individual dates to 1960 (OED).