Send to Coventry – English Idiom – Online English Lessons

To send to Coventry is to punish someone by not speaking to them.

It is thought that this idiom might have originated in England in the seventeenth century during the Civil War between King Charles I and Parliament (1642-6).

Royalist prisoners were sent to Coventry, where some of them were beheaded, and the expression ‘sending to Coventry’ became associated with punishment for disloyalty, and later with punishing someone by not speaking to them.

Coventry is the 9th largest city in England and is in the Midlands, the central part of England. Coventry suffered major damage by bombs and fire during Word War II and many of its historic buildings were destroyed, including Coventry Cathedral in the picture above.

Image of Coventry Cathedral by Paul Stevenson