By Deane Barker

This is a when a wrongdoer is humiliated by being “paraded through the streets.” From Wikipedia:

A European and North American folk custom in which a mock parade was staged through a community accompanied by a discordant mock serenade

Occasionally, the actual wrongdoer is not used, but rather someone (over-dramatically) acting as if they were them. This is the equivalent of hanging someone in effigy.

More, recently, the word is used in relation to a circus.

Perhaps the most common usage of the word today is in relation to circus performances, where a “charivari” is a type of show opening that sees a raucous tumble of clowns and other performers into the playing space.

So, the general concept is a parade generating a lot of noise, designed to call attention to itself.

Why I Looked It Up

I don’t exactly remember, but I think there was a passage in Thomas Jefferson and the Tripoli Pirates where captured U.S. sailors were dragged on a charivari through Tripoli.


Added on

The book Spam: A Shadow History of the Internet used the word often to discuss the community shaming of the first spammers in the history of the internet.

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