tar and feather


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tar and feather

1. Literally, to coat someone with tar and bird feathers as a form of public punishment and shaming (a practice that fell out of use in the early 20th century). The mob tarred and feathered the thief in the public square before parading him through the town strapped to a wooden cart.
2. By extension, to severely criticize, reprimand, or excoriate someone, especially in a public and humiliating manner. Everyone is demanding that the government tar and feather the bank executives behind the scandal, but I'd be willing to bet that all they'll receive is a slap on the wrist.
See also: and, feather, tar

tar and feather someone

to punish or humiliate someone by coating them with tar and feathers. The people of the village tarred and feathered the bank robber and chased him out of town. They threatened to tar and feather me if I ever came back into their town.
See also: and, feather, tar

tar and feather

Criticize severely, punish, as in The traditionalists often want to tar and feather those who don't conform. This expression alludes to a former brutal punishment in which a person was smeared with tar and covered with feathers, which then stuck. It was first used as a punishment for theft in the English navy, recorded in the Ordinance of Richard I in 1189, and by the mid-1700s had become mob practice. The figurative usage dates from the mid-1800s.
See also: and, feather, tar

tar and feather someone

If you tar and feather someone, you criticize and embarrass them very badly. These newspapers are ready to tar and feather innocent celebrities.
See also: and, feather, someone, tar

tar and feather

smear with tar and then cover with feathers as a punishment.
This practice was introduced in Britain in 1189 , when Richard I decreed that it should be the punishment for members of the navy found guilty of theft. It seems to have been intermittently imposed on other wrongdoers in Britain and has sometimes been inflicted on an unpopular or scandalous individual by a mob.
1981 Anthony Price Soldier No More The Russians…wouldn't have cared less if we'd tarred and feathered Nasser and run him out of Suez on a rail.
See also: and, feather, tar

tar and feather

1. To punish (a person) by covering with tar and feathers.
2. To criticize severely and devastatingly; excoriate.
See also: and, feather, tar
References in periodicals archive ?
The image encompasses much of the fascinating subject matter of this important work: the practice of punishing royal agents by covering them with tar and feathers, a liberty tree, and in the background an impression of the Boston Tea Party.
They then dragged him through the streets, tied him to a lampost and poured hot tar and feathers over him.
Tar and Feathers, El Portal Theatre, North Hollywood, through July 3, $15.
The index is a wealth of names, places, ships, events, and such abstract concepts as food riots, tar and feathers, and the creation of Yankee Doodle.
A similar mob gathered in neighboring Clifton--armed with buckets of tar and feathers, rope and gasoline--and incited a posse to kidnap the orphans who had been placed with Mexican families there.
The desire to question this hierarchy and to point up its disastrous consequences runs like a red thread through Dion's projects of the past decade, leading to some quite sinister, even macabre installations, like Tar and Feathers, 1996, with its dead animals (taxidermic specimens, in fact) hanging from a barren black tree.