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 Still, the ballot for the March 20 election won't be set until Jan. 22, so there's two weeks left for jockeying. Drew Broach | Staff Writer,, "Coronavirus vaccine offers most hope for 2021, Power Poll respondents say," 8 Jan. 2021 Though a pipe leak delayed vote counting, investigations surrounding the incident revealed nothing suspicious and confirmed that all ballots shown were in ballot containers, not suitcases, per USA TODAY. Camille Caldera, USA TODAY, "Fact check: Trump pressured officials in Georgia to recalculate state's vote in his favor," 6 Jan. 2021 But, given that Trump is not on any ballot, how, and with what weapons? Amy Davidson Sorkin, The New Yorker, "Donald Trump’s Alarming Call to Battle in Georgia," 5 Jan. 2021 The official ballot results were supplied by the Deloitte accounting firm that includes the first, second and third-place votes for each of the top-10 players. Michael Casagrande |, al, "Full 2020 Heisman Trophy ballot results," 5 Jan. 2021 Georgia’s had two Senate seats on the November ballot. Brian Slodysko, ajc, "EXPLAINER: Why Georgia won't affect Electoral College count," 5 Jan. 2021 And of the 100,000 voters who did not participate in November but who have cast an early ballot this time, about 40 percent were cast by Black voters. NBC News, "Early data suggest diverse voting blocs could give Democrats the edge in Georgia runoffs," 5 Jan. 2021 Launius alleged that poll watchers were obstructed from viewing election activity and accused election officials of using equipment made vulnerable to hackers and of tampering with the final ballot logs. Dallas News, "Dallas College’s $1B bond can finally move forward, judge rules," 4 Jan. 2021 Since then, the city has begun looking at the 1969 courthouse building as an opportunity for its own project, and the ballot ordinance addresses this. Alyssa Alfano, cleveland, "Medina City Council looks to put courthouse issue on May ballot," 4 Jan. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb According to data from the National Institute on Money in Politics, Thiry’s donations to ballot measures in that state are second only to those of billionaire Pat Stryker. Fortune, "This health care magnate wants to fix democracy, starting in Colorado," 13 Dec. 2020 Trump’s campaign team is mounting legal challenges to ballot counting in some states, but critics say the effort will prove futile and that Biden has secured a clear victory. Susan Ferrechio, Washington Examiner, "McConnell backs Trump's legal challenge of Biden's apparent victory," 9 Nov. 2020 In Pennsylvania, Trump’s attorneys claim an observer in Philadelphia wasn't allowed close enough to ballot processing. Ashley Shaffer, USA TODAY, "One nation, exhausted," 5 Nov. 2020 The Trump campaign has sued in Pennsylvania state court, claiming its observers haven't been allowed to get close enough to ballot counting in Philadelphia. USA TODAY, "Election challenges live updates: Nevada election officials sued; federal judge does not stop vote counting in Philadelphia," 6 Nov. 2020 The election mail volume has led the Postal Service to throttle resources to ballot collection, processing and delivery, the agency said. Jacob Bogage, Washington Post, "Swing state voters face major mail delays in returning ballots on time, USPS data shows," 30 Oct. 2020 The disclosure applies only to candidate donations, not ballot measures or referenda. James Brooks, Anchorage Daily News, "Ballot Measure 2 would change the way Alaskans vote for statewide candidates and those running for the Legislature. Here’s how.," 17 Oct. 2020 Priest has been on the Rock Hall ballot a couple of times at this point. Gary Graff, cleveland, "Judas Priest ‘Metal God’ Rob Halford talks music, addiction, sexuality & more in new 'Confess’ memoir," 5 Oct. 2020 The Postal Service recently warned state election officials that ballot delivery could be significantly delayed because of the record number of mail-in ballots expected during the pandemic. Chris Isidore, CNN, "Why you shouldn't use FedEx or UPS to send in your ballot," 17 Aug. 2020

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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Time Traveler for ballot

Time Traveler

The first known use of ballot was in 1549

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Statistics for ballot

Last Updated

15 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Ballot.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 15 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for ballot


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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