ostracize

verb
os·​tra·​cize | \ ˈä-strə-ˌsīz How to pronounce ostracize (audio) \
ostracized; ostracizing

Definition of ostracize

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

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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.

Examples of ostracize in a Sentence

She was ostracized from the scientific community for many years because of her radical political beliefs. The other girls ostracized her because of the way she dressed.

Recent Examples on the Web

Nigerians understood that simply ostracizing religious communities would not work. Shobana Shankar, Quartz Africa, "What the United States could learn from Nigeria about taking on anti-vaxxers," 7 June 2019 Brent Ritchie contended Staton ostracized him in 2015. oregonlive.com, "Jury awards $250,000 to former Multnomah County sergeant who claimed retaliation by ex-sheriff," 3 June 2019 In fact, much of Trump’s immigration policy stances in effect ostracize Latinx people in the immigration system. Denise Garcia, Teen Vogue, "The Head of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Called Out Trump in a Letter Rejecting a Hispanic Heritage Month Reception Invitation," 14 Sep. 2018 While Tooker was at the helm, women who complained about his behavior were ostracized or fired, according to the lawsuit. Justin Phillips, San Francisco Chronicle, "Four Barrel removes questionable wording from its website," 9 Mar. 2018 They may be pressured to recant their story or ostracized by their social circle. Elizabeth Bernstein, WSJ, "The Complex Reasons Sexual Assaults Go Unreported," 29 Sep. 2018 In response, however, Shanahan answered at length, making the reporter feel at ease instead of ostracized. Eric Branch, San Francisco Chronicle, "49ers’ Kyle Shanahan learned from his mistakes," 13 Jan. 2018 Us, blacks that were with him during the campaign were vilified, ostracized, called Uncle Tom, cahoots, sellouts, and everything else. Fox News, "Eric Trump: Hypocrisy of the media is really incredible," 3 Aug. 2018 The abdication and resulting scandal caused the Duke and Duchess of Windsor to be ostracized from the royal family. Chloe Foussianes, Town & Country, "Wallis Simpson Is Buried on the Grounds of Frogmore House, the Place Meghan Markle Will Soon Call Home," 9 Dec. 2018

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.

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First Known Use of ostracize

1649, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for ostracize

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

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Dictionary Entries near ostracize

ostracise

ostracism

ostracite

ostracize

ostracizer

ostracod

Ostracoda

Statistics for ostracize

Last Updated

17 Jun 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for ostracize

The first known use of ostracize was in 1649

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More Definitions for ostracize

ostracize

verb

English Language Learners Definition of ostracize

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

ostracize

verb
os·​tra·​cize | \ ˈä-strə-ˌsīz How to pronounce ostracize (audio) \
ostracized; ostracizing

Kids Definition of ostracize

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

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