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

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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 Australia is preparing for its federal election on May 21 and climate change is the leading issue on the ballot. Eamon Barrett, Fortune, 11 May 2022 Aside from the presidency, more than 18,000 government posts were on the ballot, including half of the 24-member Senate, more than 300 seats in the House of Representatives, as well as provincial and local offices across the archipelago. Jim Gomez, ajc, 10 May 2022 Helton, in his fourth year on the ballot, was named on 205, or 52 percent of those cast in 2021. Dom Amore, Hartford Courant, 10 May 2022 According to Texas law, if a deceased candidate’s name has been certified by the secretary of state for placement on the ballot, then it cannot be removed without their authorization. Timothy Fanning, San Antonio Express-News, 10 May 2022 Once again, Trump’s continued influence in the GOP is on the ballot, even though Trump has only endorsed four candidates running for those offices this time around. Rick Klein, ABC News, 10 May 2022 The winner of the GOP nomination will be unopposed in November as there’s no Democrat on the ballot. Bryan Schott, The Salt Lake Tribune, 10 May 2022 Members of the City Council were unanimous in their support for both the ordinances that will put the sales tax question on the ballot and for passing it. Neal Earley, Arkansas Online, 10 May 2022 Tillis is not on the ballot this year, but the state’s other Senate seat is, as are dozens of legislative seats. Mike Debonis And Josh Dawsey, Anchorage Daily News, 10 May 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Judas Priest has been on the Rock Hall ballot three times and placed sixth in this year’s fan voting. Gary Graff, Billboard, 5 May 2022 The absence of the security sleeve isn’t the only change Multnomah County election officials are making to ballot packets for the May 17 election. Jamie Goldberg, oregonlive, 26 Apr. 2022 There’s no limit on donations to ballot measure committees like the one that is backing Buscaino. Benjamin Oreskes, Los Angeles Times, 1 Feb. 2022 Rollins and Howard, both ballot first-timers, didn’t get much love from the voters. Anthony Stitt, Forbes, 26 Jan. 2022 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 See More

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.

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



See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for ballot

Last Updated

15 May 2022

Cite this Entry

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

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More Definitions for ballot


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


Test Your Vocabulary

Great Words for Scrabble

  • scrabble tiles that read scrabble quiz
  • Which of the following Q-without-U words means the number five in cards or dice?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!