What does ‘send to Coventry’ mean?
"Send to Coventry" means to deliberately ignore or ostracize someone, often as a form of punishment or disapproval, by refusing to speak or interact with them.
The Social Exile
The idiom "send to Coventry" is rooted in British English and has a long history. It is used to describe a situation where someone is deliberately ignored or ostracized by a group of people, typically as a form of punishment or protest.
During the English Civil War in the 17th century, Coventry, a city in the West Midlands, was known for its support of the Parliamentarians, who were fighting against the Royalists. One theory suggests that captured Royalist soldiers would be sent to Coventry as prisoners, resulting in their isolation and being ignored by the local townspeople.
Another theory proposes a more mundane explanation for the idiom's origin. Coventry was famous for its textile production, particularly woven cloth. Defective or flawed cloth would be sent to Coventry for repair or remake, leading those involved in the process to be socially excluded due to their association with imperfect products.
While the exact origin remains uncertain, the idiom gained popularity in the English language beyond its historical context. It is now used more broadly to describe any deliberate act of exclusion or isolation.
Interestingly, variations of this concept exist in different languages. In French, the expression "envoyer quelqu’un aux fraises" (send someone to the strawberries) has a similar meaning, highlighting the universal appeal of sending someone away or ignoring them.
The idiom "send to Coventry" has become firmly embedded in the English language, appearing in literature, media, and everyday conversation. It symbolizes the power of exclusion and underscores the potential consequences for those who find themselves on the receiving end. Its continued usage reinforces its resonance and relevance in contemporary contexts, demonstrating the enduring nature of idiomatic expressions.
The idiom "send away" is another phrase that conveys the act of deliberately sending someone away or dismissing them, often indicating a desire for their absence. It shares similarities with "send to Coventry," as both involve expelling or excluding someone from a group or situation.
Similar to "send to Coventry," the idiom "give someone the cold shoulder" also describes deliberately ignoring or avoiding someone, often as a form of punishment or protest. It implies freezing someone out, refusing to engage with them, or offering them any warmth or attention.
"send someone to the showers" is a sports-related idiom that indicates removing someone from a game or competition, typically due to poor performance or misconduct. While it doesn't share the exact meaning of "send to Coventry," it reflects a similar act of exclusion or removal from a group setting.
The expression "forget you" expresses a deliberate act of erasing someone from one's thoughts or consideration, refusing to acknowledge their existence. It aligns with the theme of exclusion and isolation present in "send to Coventry."
"cold treatment" refers to the act of treating someone with indifference or aloofness. Similar to "send to Coventry," it involves deliberately ignoring or excluding someone, displaying a lack of warmth or empathy towards them.
These related idioms further emphasize the theme of exclusion and isolation found in the idiom "send to Coventry." Each idiom captures a unique aspect of intentionally disregarding, excluding, or removing someone from a group, highlighting the various ways this concept is expressed in language.
The universal appeal of these idioms across different languages and cultures reinforces the significance of this theme in human interactions. Whether in historical contexts or present-day situations, the act of deliberately ignoring or excluding someone continues to hold resonance and remains a powerful form of protest or punishment.
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Examples of the idiom send to Coventry being used in sentences:
- He made a big mistake at work and now everyone is sending him to Coventry.
- After the argument, Sarah felt lonely and rejected as her friends sent her to Coventry.
- The class bully was sent to Coventry by his classmates as a form of punishment.