Have you ever seen a picture of a witch at Halloween? In the past, people were frightened of witches. They thought they had magical powers. They would shun, attack, or kill those accused of practicing magic. These days, when the government investigates a politician for corruption, his or her supporters might call it a ‘witch-hunt’. This means that they believe the government or media is treating the politician unfairly.
Learn more about this interesting expression in the video below.
Today, we all know that witches don’t exist. However, in the past, many women were killed because people believed they were witches.
Similarly, in modern English, a witch-hunt means…an attempt to find and punish people with unpopular and supposedly “dangerous” opinions or lifestyles. That is, an attempt to find and punish outsiders.
Let’s clear this up with a few examples:
- Adolf Hitler led a brutal witch-hunt against Jewish people, wrongly blaming them for Germany’s economic situation. It ended with the murder of millions of innocent lives.
- In the 1950s, United States’ Senator McCarthy led a witch-hunt against Americans with left-wing political views. Thousands of citizens were jailed for their quote-unquote “Communist” ideas.
- It is important that we prevent terrorist attacks. But it is also important to avoid a witch-hunt against Muslims. They are peaceful people just like you and me.
So, there we are. Do you have a similar phrase in your language?
Are you ready to use today’s idiom in a sentence? Read the prompts below to help prepare your idea.
- Did the media ever unfairly attack a politician in your country? What about a famous person?
- In your country, what groups of people have experienced a strong campaign against them?
- Did a teacher or boss ever treat you unfairly?
Well done! You’ve finished today’s lesson. So, would you like to learn more? Why not improve your grammar skills? Try our free video course English Grammar Guide.
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