What Does the Term “Blackballed” Mean and Where Did the Expression Come From?

Ostracize comes from a Greek word meaning “voting tablet,” and the ritual of “blackballing” someone was a democratic process of elimination.

A group decided if a suspect member would be banished or allowed to stay by dropping black and white balls into a ballot box.

The word ballot means “little ball.”

If the majority were black, the candidate lost and was said to have been blackballed.

When someone has been banished or ostracized by a group we say they’ve been “blackballed”.

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  • Dan

    The free masons voting process that has been around a thousand years entails dropping of a white/yes marble or black/no marble into the voting bag, if a single person votes against admission they are said to have been blackballed describing a single ball as the votes are secrets.