verb (used with object)

  1. to vote against (a candidate, applicant, etc.).
  2. to exclude socially; ostracize: The whole town blackballed them.
  3. to reject (a candidate) by placing a blackball in the ballot box.


  1. a negative vote, especially in deciding on an applicant or candidate.
  2. a black ball placed in a ballot box signifying a negative vote.


  1. a negative vote or veto
  2. a black wooden ball used to indicate disapproval or to veto in a vote
  3. NZ a hard boiled sweet with black-and-white stripes

verb (tr)

  1. to vote against in a ballot
  2. to exclude (someone) from a group, profession, etc; ostracize

also black-ball, “to exclude from a club by adverse votes,” 1770, from black (adj.) + ball (n.1). Black balls of wood or ivory dropped into an urn during secret ballots.

A rejection of an applicant’s membership in a private organization, such as a club or fraternity. The term is derived from the traditional practice of members voting anonymously on admitting new members, using either a white marble (acceptance) or a black marble (denial). Acceptance must be unanimous; therefore, one black marble in the ballot box is enough to keep the applicant out of the organization.

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