from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • transitive v. To exclude from a group. See Synonyms at blackball.
  • transitive v. To banish by ostracism, as in ancient Greece.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • v. To exclude (a person) from society or from a community, by not communicating with them or by refusing to acknowledge their presence; to refuse to talk to or associate with; to shun.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • transitive v. To exile by ostracism; to banish by a popular vote, as at Athens.
  • transitive v. To banish from society, by a general consent; to exclude from social, political, or private favor; to exclude from conversation or friendship; to shun. A person may be ostracized by a formal vote or by a widespread but informal agreement.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To exile by ostracism; banish by popular vote, as persons dreaded for their influence or power were banished by the ancient Athenians. See ostracism, 1.
  • Hence To banish from society; put under the ban; exclude from public or private favor.
  • Also spelled ostracise.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • v. avoid speaking to or dealing with
  • v. expel from a community or group


Greek ostrakizein, from ostrakon, shell, potsherd (from the potsherds used as ballots in voting for ostracism); see ost- in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Ancient Greek ὀστρακίζω (ostrakizō, "I ostracize, banish by voting with pot shards"), from ὄστρακον (ostrakon, "clay pot"). (Wiktionary)


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