black·​ball | \ˈblak-ˌbȯl \
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

b : boycott



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

down, kill, negative, nix, shoot down, veto

Antonyms: Verb

confirm, ratify

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Examples of blackball in a Sentence


the club secretly blackballs applicants who belong to that religion

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The hearing will give Kaepernick the chance to officially make the case that he was blackballed by the NFL. P.r. Lockhart, Vox, "Colin Kaepernick’s collusion grievance against the NFL, explained," 6 Sep. 2018 Plastered on the wall outside of the manager’s office or around the corner from the training room, its subject matter focused on the misdeeds of Pete Rose, the would-be Hall of Famer famously blackballed for betting on baseball. Ross Dellenger,, "Like the Rest of College Football, the SEC Is Still Building Its Game Plan for Sports Betting," 5 June 2018 Many Kaepernick supporters said he was being blackballed for taking a stance for civil rights. David Montero,, "No guns allowed? No national anthem from me, singer tells Reno baseball team," 12 Apr. 2018 Kaepernick, who was an unsigned free agent for all of last season, has accused the league of blackballing him for his political views. Andrew Beaton, WSJ, "NFL Adopts New Anthem Policy to Quell Player Protests," 23 May 2018 More players joined in participation across the league last season despite the fact that Kaepernick remained unemployed, seemingly blackballed by the owners. Mike Jones, USA TODAY, "NFL owners still seeking answers on national anthem policy," 22 May 2018 Sports media personalities back the NFL for blackballing him. Marcos Bretón, sacbee, "Kaepernick's story remains the same. What that says about us. | The Sacramento Bee," 13 Apr. 2018 Regardless of the outcome, it’s widely believed among players that owners have blackballed Reid and Kaepernick. Mike Jones, USA TODAY, "Former 49er Eric Reid would have an NFL job ... if league owners had learned anything," 2 May 2018 In 2016, two officers who alleged they were blackballed for trying to expose Watts' corruption years ago won a $2 million settlement to their whistleblower lawsuit. Jason Meisner,, "Two men framed by corrupt ex-Chicago police Sgt. Ronald Watts charged with dealing heroin," 11 Apr. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

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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Statistics for blackball

Last Updated

13 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for blackball

The first known use of blackball was in 1550

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More Definitions for blackball



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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Comments on blackball

What made you want to look up blackball? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


noxious or harmful

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