ostracize

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

Essential Meaning of ostracize

: to not allow (someone) to be included in a group : to exclude (someone) from a group She was ostracized from/by the scientific community for many years because of her radical political beliefs. The other girls ostracized her because of the way she dressed.

Full 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 But their overall message was: Get vaccinated, don’t ostracize or demonize those who haven’t, and engage in active discussion about vaccinations and the coronavirus. Anna Buchmann, San Francisco Chronicle, 16 Aug. 2021 The tragic figures are those who ostracize him, intentionally or unintentionally. Clay Cane, CNN, 25 May 2021 Here are four reasons why little is being done to further ostracize Greene. BostonGlobe.com, 24 May 2021 But the pandemic is guaranteed to expose leaders who undermine truth, create alternative realities, ostracize experts and scientists and refuse to take precautions to keep the public safe. Stephen Collinson, CNN, 26 Apr. 2021 And sometimes, expressing certain political or ideological beliefs can ostracize a group of potential customers or investors. Megan Ditrolio, Marie Claire, 25 Feb. 2021 Athenians would first take a vote on whether there should be an ostracophoria, or an election to ostracize. Megan Gannon, Smithsonian Magazine, 27 Oct. 2020 The killing set off a wave of international revulsion and calls to ostracize Saudi leadership. Washington Post, 20 Oct. 2020 Privacy experts have warned that any cache of location data related to health issues could make businesses and individuals vulnerable to being ostracized if the data are exposed. NBC News, 17 Apr. 2020

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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Time Traveler for ostracize

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The first known use of ostracize was in 1649

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Dictionary Entries Near ostracize

ostracite

ostracize

ostracizer

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Last Updated

26 Aug 2021

Cite this Entry

“Ostracize.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ostracize. Accessed 24 Oct. 2021.

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More Definitions for ostracize

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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