Send to Coventry
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To send someone to Coventry is a British idiom meaning to deliberately ostracise someone. Typically, this is done by not talking to them, avoiding their company and generally pretending that they no longer exist or are invisible. To have been sent to Coventry is regarded as to be absent. It is often used to punish people who, for example, refuse to join a strike. The Coventry referred to in the phrase is a cathedral city in the West Midlands, England.
Origin of the term 
The origins of this phrase are not known, although it is quite probable that events in Coventry in the English Civil War in the 1640s play a part. One hypothesis as to its origin is based upon The History of the Rebellion and Civil Wars in England, by Edward Hyde, 1st Earl of Clarendon. In this work, Hyde recounts how Royalist troops that were captured in Birmingham were taken as prisoners to Coventry, which was a Parliamentarian stronghold. These troops were often not received warmly by the locals.
A book entitled Lives of the Most Remarkable Criminals dated 1735 states that Charles II passed an act (law) "whereby any person with malice aforethought by lying in wait unlawfully cutting out or disabling the tongue, putting out an eye, slitting the nose or cutting off the nose or lip of any subject of His Majesty......shall suffer death." This was called the Coventry Act, after the MP Sir John Coventry who had been attacked and "had his nose slit to the bone". Therefore if you committed the crime you were sentenced under the Coventry Act.
Mr. John Barry having sent the Fox Hounds to a different place to what was ordered was sent to Coventry, but return'd upon giving six bottles of Claret to the Hunt.
By 1811, the meaning of the term was defined in Grose's The Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue:
To send one to Coventry; a punishment inflicted by officers of the army on such of their brethren as are testy, or have been guilty of improper behaviour, not worthy the cognizance of a court martial. The person sent to Coventry is considered as absent; no one must speak to or answer any question he asks, except relative to duty, under penalty of being also sent to the same place. On a proper submission, the penitent is recalled, and welcomed by the mess, as just returned from a journey to Coventry.
According to William Clark in Tales of the Wars (1836), the phrase originates from a story about a regiment that was stationed in the town of Coventry, England, but was ill-received and denied services.
Later use 
The phrase was common in industrial disputes in Britain in the mid-twentieth century. Anyone considered unsupportive of strikers was in danger of finding that his workmates refused to acknowledge his existence. For example, in Charles Dickens's Hard Times, Stephen Blackpool is sent to Coventry after publicly speaking out against an impending workers' strike.
In the 1937 movie, Captains Courageous, just such a sentence (ostracism) is carried out on young Harvey Cheyne, by his boarding school teacher and classmates.
The 1938 film Lord Jeff has orphan Terry O'Mulvaney refusing to inform on fellow orphan (and title character) Geoffrey Braemer despite being sent to Coventry by his peers in the naval military school.
In the 1960 film The Angry Silence, Richard Attenborough's character Tom Curtis gets "sent to Coventry" by fellow workers for refusing to go out on an unofficial strike.
Gunsmoke episode twenty-four of season seven (1961) is titled "Coventry" as Dean Beard (played by Joe Maross) is shunned by the residents of Dodge City for murder and cheating several ranchers out of their land.
vBulletin's global ignore list is known internally as "Tachy Goes to Coventry". A user who has been sent to Coventry can see his posts, but all other users do not.
Microsoft Word lists 'Send to Coventry' as a synonym for the word 'ostracise'.
- "The Phrase Finder". phrases.org.uk. Retrieved 2012-07-04.
- Arthur L.Hayward, ed. (2002). Key writings on subcultures, 1535–1727 : classics from the underworld. (2nd ed., repr. ed.). London: Routledge. ISBN 978-0-415-28680-0.
- "Coventry" in: Oxford English Dictionary (2nd ed.) (Oxford University Press; 1999)
- "Coventry (Grose 1811 dictionary)". fromoldbooks.org. Retrieved 2009-09-14.
- Clark, William M. (1836). Tales of the Wars. Volume 1, p. 72.
- Lord Jeff (1938)