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

Other Words from ballot


balloter noun

Synonyms for ballot

Synonyms: Noun

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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 Expected to take place later this year, the last phase of the zoning code update requires city council’s adoption before going to the ballot for resident approval. John Benson, cleveland, 11 Jan. 2022 Soon after the bill passed in June, education and community activists, under the umbrella of Invest in Arizona, circulated petitions to put the cuts on hold and send them to the November ballot. Mary Jo Pitzl, The Arizona Republic, 23 Dec. 2021 In over 20 states, more than 245 similar bills put forward this year could be carried into 2022, according to Voting Rights Lab, a group that works to expand access to the ballot. Nick Corasaniti, New York Times, 4 Dec. 2021 Still, the playing-the-field approach will be put to the test next April, when candidates have to petition the Board of Elections to add their name to the ballot — or in Paperboy’s case, 11 local ballots. Valeria Ricciulli, Curbed, 24 Nov. 2021 Justin Morneau, Jimmy Rollins and Jake Peavy also are new to the ballot along with Carl Crawford, Prince Fielder, Joe Nathan, Jonathan Papelbon, A.J. Pierzynski and Mark Teixeira, the Hall and BBWAA said Monday., 22 Nov. 2021 The measure, an initiative petition brought to the ballot by a coalition of neighborhood groups, would phase out short-term rentals in residential areas of unincorporated Lincoln County over five years and halt immediately the issue of new licenses. oregonlive, 3 Nov. 2021 That task is securing true, unfettered access to the ballot, and Black voters have been working to complete it for decades. Melissa Alexander, Glamour, 2 Nov. 2021 Carrillo pointed out that only 6% of petitions to recall a statewide officer have ever made it to the ballot here. Alexei Koseff, San Francisco Chronicle, 28 Oct. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Existing debentures holders have a first right to renew, with the remainder going to ballot if demand outstrips supply. Danielle Rossingh, Forbes, 3 Oct. 2021 Earlier this month, Pennsylvania state Sen. Doug Mastriano asked Philadelphia County, Tioga County and York County to voluntarily turn over materials ranging from router logs to voter rolls to ballot production and tabulation equipment. Sara Murray, CNN, 30 July 2021 The limits for donors in California, governed by state law, are $4,900 to legislative candidates and $32,400 to candidates for governor, with no limits on contributions to ballot measure campaigns. Bob Egelko, San Francisco Chronicle, 12 July 2021 And in Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed legislation introducing a $3,000 limit on campaign contributions to ballot initiatives — cutting off a key source of revenue to subsidize the gathering of signatures for petitions. New York Times, 22 May 2021 Additionally, the state Democratic Party and other critics of the audit settle their lawsuit in Maricopa County Superior Court, with the auditors agreeing to ballot security measures and voter privacy protections, among other things. Carrie Watters, The Arizona Republic, 13 May 2021 The Oregonian/OregonLive sent a survey to every candidate who will be on May’s ballot as well as to Cale, who is mounting a credible write-in campaign. oregonlive, 28 Apr. 2021 And like challenges to ballot access in the 2020 election, vaccine access has been plagued with obstacles keeping minority Americans on the sidelines. NBC News, 6 Apr. 2021 Thiry previously donated to ballot measure committees in California, to prevent changes to term limits and to create a system for redistricting led jointly by Democrats, Republicans and citizens unaffiliated with a political party. Fortune, 13 Dec. 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

Learn More About ballot

Dictionary Entries Near ballot

balloon vine



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Statistics for ballot

Last Updated

15 Jan 2022

Cite this Entry

“Ballot.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Jan. 2022.

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More Definitions for ballot



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)

: 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

More from Merriam-Webster on ballot

Nglish: Translation of ballot for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of ballot for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about ballot


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