[ ban ]
/ bæn /
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See synonyms for: ban / banned / banning on Thesaurus.com

verb (used with object), banned, ban·ning.
to prohibit, forbid, or bar; interdict: to ban nuclear weapons;The dictator banned all newspapers and books that criticized his regime.
  1. to pronounce an ecclesiastical curse upon.
  2. to curse; execrate.
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“Was” is used for the indicative past tense of “to be,” and “were” is only used for the subjunctive past tense.

Origin of ban

First recorded before 1000; Middle English bannen, Old English bannan “to summon, proclaim”; cognate with Old Norse banna to curse (probably influencing some senses of Middle English word), Old High German bannan; akin to Latin fārī “to speak,” Sanskrit bhanati “(he) speaks”


ban·na·ble, adjectiveun·banned, adjective


banns, bans

Other definitions for ban (2 of 4)

[ ban ]
/ bæn /

a public proclamation or edict.
bans, Ecclesiastical. banns.
(in the feudal system)
  1. the summoning of the sovereign's vassals for military service.
  2. the body of vassals summoned.

Origin of ban

First recorded in 1200–50; Middle English, ban, ban(n)e, iban “a lord's proclamation or edict or summons,” Old English (ge)ban(n) “proclamation, ordinance, summons to arms” (derivative of bannan ); influenced in some senses by Old French ban (Anglicized as ban ), from the same Germanic source; see ban1

Other definitions for ban (3 of 4)

[ ban, bahn ]
/ bæn, bɑn /

(formerly) the governor of Croatia and Slavonia.
History/Historical. a provincial governor of the southern marches of Hungary.

Origin of ban

First recorded in 1605–15; from Serbo-Croatian bân, contracted from unattested bojan, bajan, said to be from a Turkic personal name, perhaps introduced into the Balkans by the Avars; compare Medieval Greek bo(e)ános “governor”

Other definitions for ban (4 of 4)

[ bahn ]
/ bɑn /

noun, plural ba·ni [bah-nee]. /ˈbɑ ni/.
a Romanian coin, one 100th of a leu.

Origin of ban

First recorded in 1960–65; from Romanian, of uncertain origin, perhaps from Serbo-Croatian bân “provincial governor”; see origin at ban3
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022


What does ban mean?

To ban is to forbid or prohibit something or someone, as in Fatima banned her children from using screens after 9 pm so they wouldn’ stay up all night playing video games.

A ban is a law or rule that prohibits, or bans, something, as in The winter parking ban starts on December 1.

A ban can also be an informal prohibition, such as by public opinion.

Example: We had to ban the use of power tools for school projects after an unfortunate incident in shop class.

Where does ban come from?

The first records of the term ban come from before the year 1,000. It ultimately comes from the Old English bannan, meaning “to summon or proclaim.” It also has influences from the Old Norse banna, meaning “to curse,” which reflects the modern use of ban more closely. 

Usually, ban describes something that is officially prohibited. This can be on multiple levels, such as a ban on nuclear weapons by world powers, a person being banned from a restaurant for poor behavior, a person being temporarily banned from an online service, or even banning certain items or words from large services or smaller establishments.

In religion, as with Christianity, a ban is the removal of someone from the faith (excommunication) on the grounds of religious laws.

Did you know … ?

What are some other forms related to ban?

  • bannable (adjective)
  • banning (noun, verb)
  • unbanned (adjective, verb)

What are some synonyms for ban?

What are some words that often get used in discussing ban?

What are some words ban may be commonly confused with?

How is ban used in real life?

Ban is commonly used to discuss both administrative and more casual prohibitions.



Try using ban!

Which of the following is NOT a synonym for ban?

A. embargo
B. prohibit
C. refuse
D. approve

How to use ban in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for ban (1 of 3)

/ (bæn) /

verb bans, banning or banned

Word Origin for ban

Old English bannan to proclaim; compare Old Norse banna to forbid, Old High German bannan to command

British Dictionary definitions for ban (2 of 3)

/ (bæn) /

(in feudal England) the summoning of vassals to perform their military obligations

Word Origin for ban

C13: from Old French ban, of Germanic origin; related to Old High German ban command, Old Norse bann ban 1

British Dictionary definitions for ban (3 of 3)

/ (bæn) /

noun plural bani (ˈbɑːnɪ)
a monetary unit of Romania and Moldova worth one hundredth of a leu

Word Origin for ban

from Romanian, from Serbo-Croat bān lord
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012