blackball

[ blak-bawl ]
/ ˈblækˌbɔl /

verb (used with object)

to vote against (a candidate, applicant, etc.).
to exclude socially; ostracize: The whole town blackballed them.
to reject (a candidate) by placing a blackball in the ballot box.

noun

a negative vote, especially in deciding on an applicant or candidate.
a black ball placed in a ballot box signifying a negative vote.

Nearby words

  1. black-tie,
  2. black-water fever,
  3. blackacre,
  4. blackamoor,
  5. blackback flounder,
  6. blackbead,
  7. blackbeard,
  8. blackbeetle,
  9. blackbelly rosefish,
  10. blackberry

Origin of blackball

First recorded in 1760–70; black + ball1

Related formsblack·ball·er, noun

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for blackball


British Dictionary definitions for blackball

blackball

/ (ˈblækˌbɔːl) /

noun

a negative vote or veto
a black wooden ball used to indicate disapproval or to veto in a vote
NZ a hard boiled sweet with black-and-white stripes

verb (tr)

to vote against in a ballot
to exclude (someone) from a group, profession, etc; ostracize

Word Origin for blackball

C18: see sense 2

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

Word Origin and History for blackball

blackball

v.

also black-ball, "to exclude from a club by adverse votes," 1770, from black (adj.) + ball (n.1). Black balls of wood or ivory dropped into an urn during secret ballots.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Culture definitions for blackball

blackball

A rejection of an applicant's membership in a private organization, such as a club or fraternity. The term is derived from the traditional practice of members voting anonymously on admitting new members, using either a white marble (acceptance) or a black marble (denial). Acceptance must be unanimous; therefore, one black marble in the ballot box is enough to keep the applicant out of the organization.

Note

The term is now applied generally to efforts — especially unreasonable or vengeful actions — to keep a people or groups out of organizations they wish to join.

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.