black·​ball | \ ˈblak-ˌbȯl How to pronounce blackball (audio) \
blackballed; blackballing; blackballs

Definition of blackball

 (Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to vote against especially : to exclude from membership by casting a negative vote
2a : to exclude socially : ostracize



Definition of blackball (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : a small black ball for use as a negative vote in a ballot box
2 : an adverse vote especially against admitting someone to membership in an organization

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Synonyms & Antonyms for blackball

Synonyms: Verb

Antonyms: Verb

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Examples of blackball in a Sentence

Verb the club secretly blackballs applicants who belong to that religion
Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers went so far as to say Kaepernick was being blackballed from the league. Nancy Armour, USA TODAY, "Opinion: Joe Burrow shows rest of NFL that white athletes have to protest inequality, too," 30 May 2020 In 2016, Eric Reid and Colin Kaepernick began kneeling during the National Anthem in protest of these racist deaths, and the latter was functionally blackballed from the NFL. Zoé Samudzi, The New Republic, "White Witness and the Contemporary Lynching," 16 May 2020 For years she was blackballed and had to settle for crumbs. Michael Phillips,, "‘The Kitchen’ review: Married to the mob. Husbands behind bars. Women rule. Corpses pile up.," 7 Aug. 2019 Muhammad Ali, who was blackballed from boxing and had his passport revoked for refusing to fight in the Vietnam War, became a cherished figure in the civil rights movement and lit the cauldron before the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta. Nancy Armour, USA TODAY, "Opinion: International Olympic Committee's ban on political protests is the height of hypocrisy," 9 Jan. 2020 The United States this summer blackballed Zarif from coming to the United States as part of its sanctions campaign aiming to get Iran to renegotiate the 2015 nuclear deal. Louisa Loveluck, Washington Post, "Iran warns U.S. of ‘all-out war’ if attacked," 19 Sep. 2019 When her father bickered with Lesser over her salary, the movie mogul reportedly blackballed the family. Terence Mcardle, Washington Post, "Diana Serra Cary, silent film star known as ‘Baby Peggy,’ dies at 101," 25 Feb. 2020 Kaepernick is no longer in the league and claims he was blackballed for his actions. Author: Sarah Blaskey, Anchorage Daily News, "Trump says Americans should ‘stand proudly’ for the anthem. Video shows him pointing, fidgeting at Super Bowl party.," 4 Feb. 2020 And, in one case, been blackballed from ever working again. Ann Killion,, "49ers’ announcer Tim Ryan continues long, sad history of marginalizing African American quarterbacks," 5 Dec. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Photos of Jay-Z hamming it up with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, who many see as the face of Kaepernick’s blackball, were off-putting, to put it politely. Jonathan Jones,, "The Sliver of Hope for Jay-Z’s NFL Ambitions," 21 Aug. 2019 Supporters of the proposed law say letting landlords blackball people who qualify for federal vouchers is partly responsible for San Diego’s stark racial segregation, with minorities dominating southern areas and whites dominant in northern areas. David Garrick,, "Proposed San Diego law would prohibit landlord bias against people with federal housing vouchers," 2 July 2018 Pay college players, blackball Colin Kaepernick, baseball is too slow. Paul Daugherty,, "Doc: Cincinnati sports are as blah as the weather," 24 Apr. 2018 Even with Kaepernick grayballed (blackball-lite?), the trickle of protesters became a torrent, thanks to the president. Scott Ostler, San Francisco Chronicle, "Forgettable anniversary for Colin Kaepernick," 3 Mar. 2018 There is a reason why fashionable members clubs admit freelance graphic designers who live hand to mouth and blackball superstar bankers. Janan Ganesh, Town & Country, "The Bonfire of the Vanities," 8 Dec. 2017 But the idea that this situation is anything but a blackball is ridiculous. Paul Daugherty,, "Doc: Bengals vs. Bills crucial for team, maybe Marvin Lewis," 5 Oct. 2017 When there are too many swimmers for safe surfing, the blackball flag serves as a warning. Julia Herbst, Los Angeles Magazine, "5 Things You Didn’t Know about L.A.’s Iconic Lifeguard Towers," 13 July 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'blackball.' 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 blackball


1550, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1763, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Time Traveler for blackball

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The first known use of blackball was in 1550

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Statistics for blackball

Last Updated

11 Jun 2020

Cite this Entry

“Blackball.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 9 Jul. 2020.

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More Definitions for blackball


How to pronounce blackball (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of blackball

: to prevent (someone) from joining a group, club, etc., by voting against him or her

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More from Merriam-Webster on blackball

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for blackball

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with blackball

Spanish Central: Translation of blackball

Nglish: Translation of blackball for Spanish Speakers

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