Relating to an angry, unruly mob, particularly one seeking vengeance. Also: torches-and-pitchforks; fiery-torches-and-pitchforks.
Example Citations:
Before the game was over, the howls had begun. That Delhomme was able to walk out of the stadium on his own two feet Sunday is the first testament to his resilience, since the torch-and-pitchfork crowd hadn't gotten him yet.
—Darin Gantt, " 'Bad night to have a bad night':," The Herald, January 12, 2009
President-elect Obama has signaled his disinterest in show trials of the sort proposed by House Judiciary Chairman John Conyers, D-Detroit. Obama argues persuasively that the new administration has bigger fish to fry, and better ways to let the world know there's a new sheriff in town.
Meanwhile, the outgoing president could pre-empt the torch-and-pitchfork crowd by issuing blanket pardons for Dick Cheney, ex-Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and others.
—Brian Dickerson, " Give Cheney, others immunity:," Detroit Free Press, January 18, 2009
Earliest Citation:
Phil, buddy, I know where you and your audience are coming from. Most upstanding, level-headed Americans, such as yourself (or the character you play) think art is what you learned at your kindergarten teacher's knee.
There's more to it, you know. But I'm sure you're not going to examine the issue too deeply as long as there is mileage in rousing the torch-and-pitchfork, salt-of-the-earth types.
—Phil Stanford, "You, too, can find a cure for polio," The Oregonian, June 4, 1990
The trope that underlies this phrase is the classic image of the angry mob hellbent on exacting revenge. The scene is usually at night, all the better to highlight the flaming torches carried by some of the citizens, and the pitchforks carried by the rest. The outraged villagers that set out after Frankenstein (particularly in the 1931 version of the film, as suggested by reader Eric Tubin) is the canonical mob here.
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