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banned; banning; bans

transitive verb

: to prohibit especially by legal means
ban discrimination
Is smoking banned in all public buildings?
also : to prohibit the use, performance, or distribution of
ban a book
ban a pesticide
: bar entry 2 sense 3c
banned from the U.N.
archaic : curse
It is a hard fate … to be banned … by the world, only because one has sought to be wiser than the world is.Edward Bulwer Lytton

intransitive verb

archaic : to utter curses or condemnations
The serious world will scold and banJoseph Rodman Drake


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noun (1)

plural bans
: legal or formal prohibition
a ban on beef exports
: censure or condemnation especially through social pressure
was under ban for her political views
religion : anathema, excommunication
under the pope's ban
: malediction, curse
uttered a ban upon his enemies
: the summoning in feudal times of the king's vassals for military service


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noun (2)

plural bani ˈbä-(ˌ)nē How to pronounce ban (audio)
: a monetary subunit of the leu see leu at Money Table

Examples of ban in a Sentence

Verb The school banned that book for many years. The city has banned smoking in all public buildings. The drug was banned a decade ago. The use of cell phones is banned in the restaurant.
Recent Examples on the Web
Funny, but in racing the story was entirely different: active suspension worked so well on Williams-Renault Formula One cars of the era that the technology was banned. Mark Ewing, Forbes, 29 Nov. 2023 Two years later, Oregon banned them statewide and a partial ban soon followed in New Mexico where some state agencies can still use them. Scott Sonner, Fortune, 29 Nov. 2023 After a decadeslong battle, the ultra-lethal ‘cyanide bomb’ used to kill coyotes and other canines is banned on federal lands. Lily Larsen, Washington Examiner, 29 Nov. 2023 The activist had been banned from India for his separatist views and now lives in the U.S., according to the charging documents. Robert Legare, CBS News, 29 Nov. 2023 The Indian government has banned the victim and his separatist organization from India. Danielle Wallace, Fox News, 29 Nov. 2023 Many countries have banned the herbicide due to its extreme toxicity, while others have expressed concerns over the possible risk for Parkinson's disease. Cho Park, ABC News, 28 Nov. 2023 Beijing has also banned most overseas investments in hotels, office towers and other assets of little geopolitical value. Joy Dong, New York Times, 28 Nov. 2023 For a time, popular music from the Bollywood industry was banned in favor of more classical music. Adil Rashid, WIRED, 28 Nov. 2023
Then, in December 2017, Saudi lifted its cinema ban and has since made the media and creative industries an important pillar of its plan to diversify its economy. Nick Vivarelli, Variety, 30 Nov. 2023 What led New Zealand to reverse its generational smoking ban? 8. CNN, 30 Nov. 2023 The national ban on after-school English tutoring has not affected the school’s bilingual teaching, according to Sohmen. Shu-Ching Jean Chen, Forbes, 30 Nov. 2023 Hong Kong is considering imposing lifetime tobacco bans for future generations. Rachel Pannett, Washington Post, 28 Nov. 2023 Panama’s trade ministry has rejected more than 10 mining concessions and extension requests to abide by the new ban. Elida Moreno, Valentine Hilaire, and Divya Rajagopal, The Christian Science Monitor, 28 Nov. 2023 Hysterectomies are considered medical treatment and excluded from the ban. Sarah Hurtes, New York Times, 25 Nov. 2023 Card owners might own guns not covered by the ban or have any guns at all. Jeremy Gorner Chicago Tribune (tns),, 25 Nov. 2023 There were more than 800 book bans during the first half of the 2022-2023 school year, according to national free speech organization PEN America. Kalia Richardson, Rolling Stone, 22 Nov. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'ban.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History



Middle English bannen "to summon (troops) by proclamation, assemble (an armed force), gather (arms), curse, anathematize, prohibit, outlaw," going back to Old English bannan (class VII strong verb) "to summon by proclamation, call to arms," going back to Germanic *bannan- "to speak formally, call on, order" (whence also Old Frisian bonna, banna "to call upon, command, place under a ban," Old Saxon & Old High German bannan "to summon, order," Old Norse banna "to prohibit, curse"), going back to Indo-European *bho-n-h2-e-, presumed o-grade intensive derivative (with gemination from a present formation with *-nu̯-e-?) from a verbal base *bheh2- "speak, say," whence also Latin for, fārī "to speak, say," Greek phēmí, phánai, Armenian bay "(s/he) says, speaks," and with extensions Eastern Church Slavic baju, bajati "to tell (stories), cast a spell, cure," Bosnian-Croatian-Serbian bȁjati "to tell tales, practice sorcery," Sanskrit bhánati "(s/he) speaks, says, (it) sounds"

Note: The senses "curse, anathematize, prohibit," etc., in Middle English are not attested in Old English and are generally thought to reflect influence of the cognate Old Norse verb. The English verb has also been influenced in sense by Medieval Latin bannīre and Old French banir (see banish). — The reconstruction of the source of Germanic *bannan- in Indo-European terms is from G. Kroonen, Etymological Dictionary of Proto-Germanic (Brill, 2013), though any number of alternative reconstructions are possible that result in the new verbal base *bann-. Indo-European *bheh2- "speak, say" is phonetically identical with and probably a semantic offshoot of the base *bheh2- "shine, give light, appear" (see fantasy entry 1); the presumed sense in shift would be "shine, give light" > "make bright, illuminate" > "make clear, clarify" > "speak, say."

Noun (1)

Middle English ban, bane, banne "proclamation by an authority, summons, one of the marriage banns, troop of warriors summoned by their overlord," in part noun derivative of bannen "to summon (troops) by proclamation," in part borrowed from Anglo-French ban, baan "proclamation, edict, jurisdiction, one of the marriage banns" (also continental Old French, "summons to arms by a lord, proclamation commanding or prohibiting an action"), going back to Old Low Franconian *banna-, going back to Germanic (whence also Old Frisian bon, ban, bān "order commanding or prohibiting under pain of a fine, authority, summoning of the army, banishment," Old Saxon bann "command, summons, fine, excommunication," Old High German ban "command by an authority, order, legal extension or withdrawal of protection"), noun derivative of *bannan- "to speak formally, call on, order" — more at ban entry 1

Note: The Middle English noun may also continue Old English gebann, gebenn "edict, proclamation, command," a derivative of gebannan, similar in meaning to unprefixed bannan. The negative senses "prohibition, condemnation," etc., though present to a limited degree already in early Medieval Latin, do not appear in English (or French) until the sixteenth century, and are in part derived from the verb ban entry 1. The Germanic etymon appears in Latin as bannus (or bannum), from the sixth century in Gregory of Tours' Historia Francorum, and the seventh century in the Lex Ripuaria, the laws of the Ripuarian Franks; the Latin word went on to develop a broad range of meanings (compare the entries in J.F. Niermeyer, Mediae Latinitatis lexicon minus and Dictionary of Medieval Latin from British Sources).

Noun (2)

Romanian, money, coin, small coin

First Known Use


12th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 3

Noun (1)

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 5

Noun (2)

1880, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of ban was in the 12th century

Dictionary Entries Near ban

Cite this Entry

“Ban.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 5 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


1 of 2 verb
banned; banning
: to forbid especially by law or social pressure


2 of 2 noun
: an official order forbidding something

Legal Definition


1 of 2 transitive verb
banned; banning
: to prohibit or forbid especially by legal means (as by statute or order)
ban solicitation
also : to prohibit the use, performance, or distribution of
legislation to ban DDT


2 of 2 noun
: prohibition especially by statute or order
a ban on automatic weapons

More from Merriam-Webster on ban

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