"to convict quickly and perhaps unjustly," 1873, American English, from railroad (n.) as the then-fastest form of travel.
A person knowing more than might be desirable of the affairs, or perhaps the previous life of some powerful individual, high in authority, might some day ventilate his knowledge, possibly before a court of justice; but if his wisdom is railroaded to State's prison, his evidence becomes harmless. ["Wanderings of a Vagabond," New York, 1873]
Related: Railroaded; railroading. An earlier verb sense was "to have a mania for building railroads" (1847).
"a spoof; action of mocking or teasing," by 1958, slang, from the verbal phrase send up "to mock, make fun of" (1931); see send (v.) + up (adv.). This is perhaps a transferred use of the public school colloquial phrase for "to send a boy to the headmaster" (usually for punishment), which is attested from 1821. In U.S. slang, send up could mean "convict of crime and imprison" (1852), and in 19c. nautical language it meant "hoist (a mast or yard) into its place aloft."
To send down (v.) also was a British university punishment: "compel a student to leave the college for a time" (1853), and in U.S. slang this also meant "put in prison" (1840).
mid-15c., "the proving or finding of guilt of an offense charged," from Late Latin convictionem (nominative convictio) "proof, refutation," noun of action from past-participle stem of convincere "to overcome decisively," from com-, here perhaps an intensive prefix (see com-), + vincere "to conquer" (from nasalized form of PIE root *weik- (3) "to fight, conquer").
Meaning "mental state of being convinced or fully persuaded" is from 1690s; that of "firm belief, a belief held as proven" is from 1841. In a religious sense, "state of being convinced one has acted in opposition to conscience, admonition of the conscience," from 1670s.
c. 1300, pardoun, "papal indulgence, forgiveness of sins or wrongdoing," from Old French pardon, from pardoner "to grant; forgive" (11c., Modern French pardonner), "to grant, forgive," and directly from Medieval Latin perdonum, from Vulgar Latin *perdonare "to give wholeheartedly, to remit," from Latin per "through, thoroughly" (from PIE root *per- (1) "forward," hence "through") + donare "give as a gift," from donum "gift," from PIE *donum "gift," from root *do- "to give."
Meaning "a passing over of an offense without punishment" is from c. 1300, also in the strictly ecclesiastical sense; the sense of "pardon for a civil or criminal offense; release from penalty or obligation" is from late 14c., earlier in Anglo-French. Weaker sense of "excuse for a minor fault" is attested from 1540s. To beg (one's) pardon "ask forgiveness" is by 1640s.
Strictly, pardon expresses the act of an official or a superior, remitting all or the remainder of the punishment that belongs to an offense: as, the queen or the governor pardons a convict before the expiration of his sentence. Forgive refers especially to the feelings; it means that one not only resolves to overlook the offense and reestablishes amicable relations with the offender, but gives up all ill feeling against him. [Century Dictionary]
The American folk custom of wearing or displaying a yellow ribbon to signify solidarity with loved ones or fellow citizens at war originated during the U.S. embassy hostage crisis in Iran in 1979. It does not have a connection to the American Civil War, beyond the use of the old British folk song "Round Her Neck She Wore A Yellow Ribbon" in the John Wayne movie of the same name, with a Civil War setting, released in 1949.
The story of a ribbon tied to a tree as a signal to a convict returning home that his loved ones have forgiven him is attested from 1959, but the ribbon in that case was white.
The ribbon color seems to have changed to yellow first in a version retold by newspaper columnist Pete Hamill in 1971. The story was dramatized in June 1972 on ABC-TV (James Earl Jones played the ex-con). Later that year, Irwin Levine and L. Russell Brown copyrighted the song "Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree," which became a pop hit in early 1973 and sparked a lawsuit by Hamill, later dropped.
In 1975, the wife of a Watergate conspirator put out yellow ribbons when her husband was released from jail, and news coverage of that was noted and remembered by Penne Laingen, whose husband was U.S. ambassador to Iran in 1979 and one of the Iran hostages taken in the embassy on Nov. 4. Her yellow ribbon in his honor was written up in the Dec. 10, 1979, Washington Post.
When the hostage families organized as the Family Liaison Action Group (FLAG), they took the yellow ribbon as their symbol. The ribbons revived in the 1991 Gulf War and again during the 2000s wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.