verb os·tra·cize \ ˈä-strə-ˌsīz \
Updated on: 15 Aug 2017

Definition of ostracize

ostracized; ostracizing
transitive verb
1 :to exile by ostracism
  • Despite his victories, Themistocles was ostracized by the Athenians.
2 :to exclude from a group by common consent
  • a lonely dissenter, ostracized as an enemy of the people
  • —Robert Brustein

ostracize was our Word of the Day on 07/15/2016. Hear the podcast!

Examples of ostracize in a Sentence

  1. She was ostracized from the scientific community for many years because of her radical political beliefs.

  2. The other girls ostracized her because of the way she dressed.

Recent Examples of ostracize from the Web

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

ostracize Has Greek Roots

In ancient Greece, prominent citizens whose power or influence threatened the stability of the state could be exiled by a practice called ostracism. Voters would elect to banish another citizen by writing that citizen's name down on a potsherd. Those receiving enough votes would then be subject to temporary exile from the state (usually for ten years). The English verb ostracize can mean "to exile by the ancient method of ostracism," but these days it usually refers to the general exclusion of one person from a group at the agreement of its members. Ostracism and ostracize derive from the Greek ostrakizein ("to banish by voting with potsherds"). Its ancestor, the Greek ostrakon ("shell" or "potsherd"), also helped to give English the word oyster.

Origin and Etymology of ostracize

Greek ostrakizein to banish by voting with potsherds, from ostrakon shell, potsherd — more at oyster

OSTRACIZE Defined for English Language Learners



Definition of ostracize for English Language Learners

  • : to not allow (someone) to be included in a group : to exclude (someone) from a group

OSTRACIZE Defined for Kids


verb os·tra·cize \ ˈä-strə-ˌsīz \

Definition of ostracize for Students

ostracized; ostracizing
:to shut out of a group
  • After I cheated, I was ostracized by the other players.

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a ram's-horn trumpet used in Judaism

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