os·​tra·​cism | \ ˈä-strə-ˌsi-zəm How to pronounce ostracism (audio) \

Definition of ostracism

1 : 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.
2 : 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 These issues localize around Kat's isolated teen sister Serena and her spitfire best friend Jenn (Amanda Zhou), two young people facing social ostracism within their skating club for disparate reasons. Robyn Bahr, The Hollywood Reporter, "'Spinning Out': TV Review," 31 Dec. 2019 The Holocaust began long before Kristallnacht and Auschwitz, with ostracism, dehumanization and deportations, which are happening the world over, the United States included. Diana Spechler, Washington Post, "For 115 years, one restaurant has fed the elite in Berlin and now Madrid. Nazis included.," 17 Dec. 2019 Disagreements among our citizens—elected officials in particular—must be addressed through engagement, not ostracism. NBC News, "Democrats blast Israel's 'dangerous' decision to bar Omar, Tlaib from entering the country," 15 Aug. 2019 The Athenian institution of ostracism originated in the need to expel individuals who threatened the balance of power. Alex Ross, The New Yorker, "Nietzsche’s Eternal Return," 7 Oct. 2019 On pain of ostracism, its legitimacy was never to be questioned. Andrew C. Mccarthy, National Review, "Do Republicans See the Strategy to Discredit the Barr Investigation?," 2 Oct. 2019 This isn’t to say, of course, that there aren’t real instances of intolerance and repression around for our putative chroniclers of cultural ostracism to take an interest in. Osita Nwanevu, The New Republic, "The “Cancel Culture” Con," 23 Sep. 2019 In those that haven’t, trans name changers risk ostracism or violence from fellow residents. Dan Stahl, NBC News, "Making a name for yourself: For trans people, it's 'life-changing'," 6 Sep. 2019 Its laws were strict, and sentences carried out in its name could include death or ostracism. Max Bearak, Washington Post, "Kenya’s Pokomo people ask the British to return what was stolen: Their source of power," 9 Aug. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'ostracism.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of ostracism

1588, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for ostracism

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about ostracism

Time Traveler for ostracism

Time Traveler

The first known use of ostracism was in 1588

See more words from the same year

Statistics for ostracism

Last Updated

13 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Ostracism.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ostracism. Accessed 17 Feb. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on ostracism

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


See Definitions and Examples »

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

More Confusing Words—Quiz

  • cats on impossible timber
  • The magician ______ moved the selected card to the top of the deck.
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Add Diction

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!