verb (used with object), os·tra·cized, os·tra·ciz·ing.
  1. to exclude, by general consent, from society, friendship, conversation, privileges, etc.: His friends ostracized him after his father's arrest.
  2. to banish (a person) from his or her native country; expatriate.
  3. (in ancient Greece) to banish (a citizen) temporarily by popular vote.
Also especially British, os·tra·cise.

Origin of ostracize

1640–50; < Greek ostrakízein, equivalent to óstrak(on) potsherd, tile, ballot (akin to óstreion oyster, shell) + -izein -ize
Related formsos·tra·ciz·a·ble, adjectiveos·tra·ci·za·tion, nounos·tra·ciz·er, noun

Synonyms for ostracize

Antonyms for ostracize

1. accept.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for ostracise

Historical Examples of ostracise

  • (following him slightly C.) Why yield to her when we might ostracise her?

    Niobe, All Smiles

    Harry Paulton and Edward A. (Edward Antonio) Paulton

  • It was manifestly the intention of her family to ostracise her altogether.

    The Way We Live Now

    Anthony Trollope

  • Hence he did not ostracise me; but smiling, said, "Train very late to-day, sir."

  • In their turn they ostracise him after their fashion; so he becomes a silent, solitary youth, self-reliant, and old for his years.

    The Gamekeeper at Home

    Richard Jefferies

  • She knew that the world could not afford to ostracise the men,—though happily it might condemn the women.

    An Eye for an Eye

    Anthony Trollope

British Dictionary definitions for ostracise



verb (tr)
  1. to exclude or banish (a person) from a particular group, society, etc
  2. (in ancient Greece) to punish by temporary exile
Derived Formsostracism, nounostracizable or ostracisable, adjectiveostracizer or ostraciser, noun

Word Origin for ostracize

C17: from Greek ostrakizein to select someone for banishment by voting on potsherds; see ostracon
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 ostracise

chiefly British English spelling of ostracize (q.v.); for suffix, see -ize. Related: Ostracised.



1640s, from Greek ostrakizein "to banish," literally "to banish by voting with potshards" (see ostracism). Figurative sense of "to exclude from society" is attested from 1640s. Related: Ostracization; ostracized; ostracizing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper