bal·​lot | \ ˈba-lət How to pronounce ballot (audio) \

Definition of ballot

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : a small ball used in secret voting
b : a sheet of paper used to cast a secret vote
2a : the action or system of secret voting
b : the right to vote
3 : the number of votes cast
4 : the drawing of lots


balloted; balloting; ballots

Definition of ballot (Entry 2 of 2)

intransitive verb

: to vote or decide by ballot

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Other Words from ballot


balloter noun

Synonyms for ballot

Synonyms: Noun

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Did You Know?

When people voted in ancient Athens, they dropped pebbles into an urn. Similarly, when voting was done by the people of Venice during the Renaissance, secrecy was assured by the use of little colored or marked balls. The Italian word for “little ball” is ballotta, from balla, meaning “ball,” and the diminutive suffix –otta. Now any kind of secret voting, by ball, piece of paper, or voting machine, is called a ballot. So is the right to vote itself.

Examples of ballot in a Sentence

Noun They cast their votes in a secret ballot. She was elected by secret ballot.
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Out of the 3,600 people affected, 2,425 investors returned ballots approving the repayment plan, Keenan said. Marcia Heroux Pounds,, "Victims of cash-advance firm’s alleged securities fraud stand to recover $100 million," 17 Sep. 2019 Carl, now 80, played 23 seasons for the Red Sox and was a first-ballot Hall of Famer, an 18-time All-Star during his career and the Triple Crown winner in his MVP season in 1967. Alaa Abdeldaiem,, "Mike Yastrzemski Makes Fenway Park Debut With Grandfather in Attendance," 17 Sep. 2019 His group spent $25 million on an unsuccessful rent control ballot measure in 2018 and has already drafted a do-over effort for 2020. Los Angeles Times, "News Analysis: California’s Legislature tackled big issues in 2019. Bigger fights might be coming," 16 Sep. 2019 The Early Matters committee plans to submit recommendations on possible changes to Pre-K 4 SA and on ballot language, but the group’s effort won’t be confined to the city program and will range in other directions, its leaders said. Ashley Mcbride,, "San Antonio civic leaders launch early childhood education advocacy group," 16 Sep. 2019 Fred Gardner, an office spokesman at the time, said that Mr. Hallinan became concerned as Ms. Harris assumed a public-facing role in the ballot debate, growing suspicious that Ms. Harris might run against him. Matt Flegenheimer, New York Times, "Kamala Harris Was Ready to Brawl From the Beginning," 15 Sep. 2019 But who could’ve predicted the infusion of fresh blood flooding the ballots this year? Kristen Baldwin,, "Emmys 2019: Who will and should win," 13 Sep. 2019 Meanwhile, Uber and DoorDash are teaming up to fight California lawmakers with a war chest of $60 million between the two of them and a proposal to put an alternative referendum before voters on next year’s ballot. Fortune, "WeWork’s Slumping IPO Valuation Isn’t Investor SoftBank’s Only Major Problem," 13 Sep. 2019 In 2018, Maricopa County continued to allow voters to verify their signatures on ballots after Election Day. Andrew Oxford, azcentral, "Arizona voters who don't sign early ballots will get a second chance under settlement," 12 Sep. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb In her role at CMA, Simms oversaw all balloting for the CMA Awards, CMA Broadcast Awards and the Country Music Hall of Fame elections. Hannah Malach, Billboard, "Executive Turntable: Moves at Sony/ATV, Parlophone, Big Machine & More," 6 Sep. 2019 Mike West, spokesman for the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections, told that the board won’t assign numbers to ballot issues until after Sept. 6, which is the deadline for cities to place charter amendments on the Nov. 5 ballot. Bob Sandrick,, "Broadview Heights voters to decide Nov. 5 whether to renew police tax; early voting starts Oct. 8," 29 Aug. 2019 McCarron won the Maxwell Award and the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award and finished second in the Heisman Trophy balloting for the 2013 season. Mark Inabinett |, al, "Injury endangers AJ McCarron’s preseason availability for Texans," 7 Aug. 2019 McCarron won the Maxwell Award and the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award and finished second in the Heisman Trophy balloting for the 2013 season. Mark Inabinett |, al, "Injury endangers AJ McCarron’s preseason availability for Texans," 7 Aug. 2019 At issue is the impending approval or veto of Senate Bill 27, the latest effort by Democratic legislators to link a presidential hopeful’s tax transparency to ballot access. Los Angeles Times, "Newsletter: Those seeking access to Trump’s tax returns now wait for Gov. Gavin Newsom," 29 July 2019 Ohio State’s Chase Young and Wisconsin’s Jonathan Taylor were chosen as the preseason defensive and offensive players of the years in balloting from 34 media members conducted by Doug Lesmerises,, "Ohio State’s Chase Young, Wisconsin’s Jonathan Taylor named 2019 Big Ten preseason players of the year," 17 July 2019 The first stage of the process begins on Thursday, when Conservative Party lawmakers start balloting to draw up a shortlist of two candidates, one of whom will eventually be chosen in voting by around 150,000 members of the party. Stephen Castle, New York Times, "Boris Johnson Emerges to Face Reporters’ Questions. Six of Them.," 12 June 2019 The absences of Harper, a six-time All-Star, and Machado, a four-time All-Star, in the NL's starting lineup were neither surprising - as both finished outside the top three in balloting to reach the finals - nor outrageous. Dave Sheinin,, "With All-Star Game starters, who didn’t make cut is as notable as who did," 28 June 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'ballot.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of ballot


1549, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1603, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for ballot


Italian ballotta, from Italian dialect, diminutive of balla ball — more at balloon

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Statistics for ballot

Last Updated

31 Oct 2019

Time Traveler for ballot

The first known use of ballot was in 1549

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More Definitions for ballot



Financial Definition of ballot

What It Is

A ballot reflects a shareholder's vote on a corporate decision.

How It Works

Most corporations have an annual shareholders meeting in which shareholders come to listen to presentations by the company's management and to vote on key issues, such as whether to merge with another company, whether to re-elect certain board members, and other issues. Shareholders cast their votes via ballots. Ballots are traditionally on paper, but some companies allow shareholders to cast their ballots via phone or the Internet.

A proxy is a person, agency, or entity authorized to act on behalf of another person, agency or entity. In the finance world, proxy most often refers to an entity authorized to vote on behalf of a shareholder. It also commonly refers to Securities and Exchange Commission Form 14-A (the "proxy statement"), which is the document containing the actual voting ballot and disclosing information related to management compensation and matters on which to vote. The Securities and Exchange Commission requires public companies to file proxy statements annually prior to the companies' annual shareholder meetings; the objective is to inform shareholders of the meeting, what matters are up for a vote, and instructions for voting.

Why It Matters

Ballots are how shareholders vote. Shareholders are the owners of companies, and they have the ultimate say in what a company decides, who serves on the board of directors, and whether to sell the company.

In many cases, shareholders don't actually receive a ballot in the mail if they own shares indirectly, as is the case with mutual funds (in that situation, shareholders own shares of the mutual fund rather than shares of the underlying companies the mutual fund invests in). Investors who hold shares in street name (that is, the shares are registered to the investor's brokerage firm rather than in his or her own name) might also not receive ballots. In these cases, the fund manager or brokerage firm is the actual shareholder in the eyes of the company, and they receive the ballot and can vote the shares. These people are responsible for voting the shares in the best interest of their investors, and in many cases, a mutual fund is a sizeable shareholder -- its vote may have a significant impact on the company.

Source: Investing Answers


How to pronounce ballot (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of ballot

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a ticket or piece of paper used to vote in an election
: a process that allows people to vote in secret so that other people cannot see their votes
: the total number of votes in an election



English Language Learners Definition of ballot (Entry 2 of 2)

chiefly British : to ask (people) to decide something by voting


bal·​lot | \ ˈba-lət How to pronounce ballot (audio) \

Kids Definition of ballot

1 : a printed sheet of paper used in voting
2 : the action or a system of voting
3 : the right to vote
4 : the number of votes cast

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Comments on ballot

What made you want to look up ballot? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to speed up the process or progress of

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