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

The film, written by Phillips and Scott Silver, is described as a gritty portrayal of a character ostracized by society. Trilby Beresford, The Hollywood Reporter, "'Joker': What the Critics are Saying," 31 Aug. 2019 The clergy and royal courts in days of yore used images of griffins, hellmouths, harpies, dragons and sea swine to instill fear, to divide anxious populations, to assert dominance and control, and to ostracize non-Europeans. Steven Litt, cleveland.com, "‘Medieval Monsters’ exhibit at Cleveland Museum of Art surveys images used to inspire fear, hatred and wonder," 1 Sep. 2019 Our goal of this package is not to ostracize, separate, or add to the maelstrom of click-bait on the internet. Lindsay Schallon, Glamour, "Let's Talk About the ‘F’ Word," 26 Aug. 2019 Even when Associated Press reporter Steve Wilstein spotted a jar of androstenedione in McGwire’ locker, a substance banned by the Olympics and the NFL, Wilstein was the one who was ostracized, and not McGwire. Bob Nightengale, USA TODAY, "Opinion: Decades later, we're wondering about steroids in baseball – again," 8 July 2019 In 1971, Downer was ostracized at the National Organization for Women conference and told not to get too graphic at the meeting promoting self-exams. Alicia Mundy, Washington Post, "The health-care system’s second-class citizens," 6 Sep. 2019 And in fact, in a far different America of the past, many minority celebrities and politicians did assume Anglicized names on their unfortunately all-too-accurate assumption that too many white racists would ostracize them for their minority status. Victor Davis Hanson, National Review, "How Robert O’Rourke Became ‘Beto’," 12 Aug. 2019 But the barrier for entry was low, Fitzsimmons said, and some authenticators were later ostracized for making dubious determinations. NBC News, "Foul Ball: Did a NJ man get duped into buying $100K in bogus sports memorabilia?," 9 Aug. 2019 Some tried suicide, others were ostracized by their family and friends. Pauline Repard, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Attorney: Women exposed on porn website suffered ‘living hell’," 20 Aug. 2019

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

borrowed from Greek ostrakízein "(in 5th-century Athens) to banish an individual chosen after a vote taken by writing names on potsherds," from óstrakon "earthen vessel, potsherd" + -izein -ize — more at ostracon

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Dictionary Entries near ostracize

ostracise

ostracism

ostracite

ostracize

ostracizer

ostracod

Ostracoda

Statistics for ostracize

Last Updated

7 Oct 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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