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 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 There is a widespread consensus that Kaepernick has been blackballed for his political views. Jody Rosen, New York Times, "Who’s Better at Image Management: Colin Kaepernick or the N.F.L.?," 12 Dec. 2019 So Myles Garrett won’t play for a few games for hitting an opponent in the head with a helmet, while Colin Kaepernick is blackballed for three years for expressing a personal belief? Dp Opinion, The Denver Post, "Letters: Rating the quarterback’s detractors (11/24/19)," 24 Nov. 2019 Kaepernick has not played in the NFL since the end of the 2016 season, effectively blackballed as punishment for his protests against police brutality toward people of color and social inequality. Nancy Armour, USA TODAY, "Opinion: NFL owners can't hide from the truth anymore after Colin Kaepernick shows he's ready to play," 17 Nov. 2019 Kaepernick has been effectively blackballed from the NFL since 2016 because of his decision to take a knee during the singing of the national anthem before games. Dave Birkett, Detroit Free Press, "Detroit Lions will attend Colin Kaepernick's weekend workout in Atlanta," 13 Nov. 2019 There is some kind of weird media-deflecting, blackballing, McCarthy-istic bubble of ignore-ance around this athlete. Wired, "These Astounding Performances Made Track's Top Event a Hit," 8 Oct. 2019 Facebook either stifles them, buys them, shuts them down, blackballs them. John Mccormack, National Review, "Josh Hawley’s Virtue Politics," 20 June 2019 Ducey's signature on the bill comes about six months after the co-owner of Prescott Valley’s Arizona Downs track said his business was being blackballed by Monarch Content Management. Ryan Randazzo, azcentral, "Marijuana, landlords and horse racing: What Arizona Gov. Ducey decided on final bills," 10 June 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

23 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Blackball.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 Feb. 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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