Killing of an alleged offender by an individual or group having no legal authority. In the US it originated in 1780 with creation of a “committee of vigilance” in Virginia; it is named for a member of that committee, Captain William Lynch, to whom is attributed “Lynch’s law”. Later examples occurred mostly in the Southern states after the Civil War, and were racially motivated. During 1882–1900 the annual number of lynchings in the US varied between 96 and 231, but today it is an exceptional occurrence.
Similar behavior patterns exist in many societies, especially when access to regular courts is poor.
Putting to death by mob action without due process of law.