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 Lawyers for both parties asked the state Supreme Court on Tuesday to keep the proposal off the 2020 ballot. USA TODAY, "Pothole protest, Ernie Pyle, urine scare: News from around our 50 states," 4 Dec. 2019 Also on the ballot will be Republican Sen. David Perdue, another vocal Trump defender. Author: Ben Nadler And Andrew Taylor, Anchorage Daily News, "Kemp expected to pick newcomer to succeed Isakson in Senate," 3 Dec. 2019 All candidates for an office, including party nominated candidates, appear on the same primary ballot. Jim Saunders,, "Florida Supreme Court hears the pros and cons of ‘jungle’ primary," 3 Dec. 2019 Wayne Kids Win! gathered well more than the minimum 53,000 signatures needed from registered voters in Wayne County by Tuesday's deadline to land on the March 10 countywide ballot. Micah Walker, Detroit Free Press, "Campaign committee collects 90K signatures for after-school program millage," 3 Dec. 2019 Also on the ballot will be Republican Sen. David Perdue, another vocal Trump defender. Washington Post, "Kemp expected to pick Loeffler to succeed Isakson in Senate," 2 Dec. 2019 Derek Jeter is a lock to be voted in his first year on the ballot this year. Nat Newell, Indianapolis Star, "Will Scott Rolen make the Baseball Hall of Fame?," 27 Nov. 2019 The California Supreme Court has rejected a state law that would have required President Donald Trump to disclose his tax returns in order to have his name appear on the state’s primary ballot. Brian Melley, Fortune, "Trump Doesn’t Have to Disclose His Taxes to Be on California’s Primary Ballot," 21 Nov. 2019 Trout and Bregman were 1-2 on the ballots of all 30 voters, with 17 first-place votes for Trout and 13 for Bregman. David Barron, Houston Chronicle, "Angels' Mike Trout edges Astros' Alex Bregman for AL MVP," 14 Nov. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Despite the vitriol, results of the Nov. 5 balloting proved there are people in the larger community who respect the candidates enough to go to the polls and vote for them. Jeanne Houck,, "Professor who teaches a class on trolling and social media elected to Forest Hills school board," 7 Nov. 2019 Park finished runner-up in Norris Trophy balloting four times, each of them to Orr, during his run on Broadway., "Charlie Simmer," 27 Oct. 2019 Mills said a 2010 ruling by the supreme court has created doubt in the state’s mind about how the single-subject rule should be applied to ballot measures. James Brooks, Anchorage Daily News, "Anchorage judge orders election-reform ballot measure to proceed, but state will appeal," 29 Oct. 2019 Overt solicitation for votes -- from bribes to including an artist’s balloting number in an ad -- leads to disqualification by the academy, so artists’ teams have long looked for other ways to stand out. Tatiana Cirisano, Billboard, "The Secrets to Grammy Campaign Success," 19 Sep. 2019 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

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

7 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Ballot.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 9 December 2019.

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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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