os·​tra·​cism ˈä-strə-ˌsi-zəm How to pronounce ostracism (audio)
: a method of temporary banishment by popular vote without trial or special accusation practiced in ancient Greece
Ostracism of political opponents was a common practice in ancient Athens.
: exclusion by general consent from common privileges or social acceptance
For years she suffered ostracism from the scientific community.
Ostracism is a common fate for tell-all writers.R. S. Coburn

Examples of ostracism in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Advertisement At the height of the nation’s struggle of conscience over the Vietnam War, that decision had multiple possible consequences for a young man: ostracism by friends and family, loss of employment opportunities, and lifetime stigma as being unpatriotic or worse — a coward. Doug Smith, Los Angeles Times, 14 June 2024 But many of these laws focus on prohibiting forced conversion, including by threat of violence, invoking divine displeasure, and promising social ostracism if somebody refuses to convert. Arundhati Katju, Foreign Affairs, 23 Dec. 2020 For gay men and women, 1950s conformity enforced by McCarthyism meant that the revelation of their sexuality could lead to financial ruin, ostracism and even worse. Lorraine Berry, Los Angeles Times, 3 June 2024 For many, that equates to the right of the Jewish people to have their own state and self-determination in an ancestral homeland after centuries of oppression and ostracism in much of the world. Tracy Wilkinson, Los Angeles Times, 22 May 2024 The liberty to march to your own drummer without ostracism or molestation is in peril. Bruce Fein, Baltimore Sun, 3 Apr. 2024 In these role-playing experiments, those who experienced ostracism reported lower levels of belonging, control, meaningful existence and superiority than those who experienced an argument. Danielle Sukenik, Discover Magazine, 3 May 2024 Leprosy is also not very contagious, despite what the severe stigma and ostracism of the past may have led you to believe. Benj Edwards, Ars Technica, 8 Aug. 2023 Then again, for most of us fighting in a restaurant, blowing up a business deal over a broken toilet seat, talking during a prayer service or going to all-out war with a coffee shop owner or another patient in the doctor’s waiting room would mean shame, social ostracism, possibly jail. Whitney Friedlander, Los Angeles Times, 18 Jan. 2024

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

Word History


borrowed from New Latin ostracismus, borrowed from Greek ostrakismós, from ostrakízein "to ostracize" + -ismos -ism

First Known Use

1588, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of ostracism was in 1588

Dictionary Entries Near ostracism

Cite this Entry

“Ostracism.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ostracism. Accessed 23 Jun. 2024.

Kids Definition


os·​tra·​cism ˈäs-trə-ˌsiz-əm How to pronounce ostracism (audio)
: a method of temporary banishment by popular vote without trial practiced in ancient Greece
: a general refusal to include someone as part of a social group
Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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