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Blackball means to reject a candidate for membership in a private organization, by secret ballot. Blackball is a transitive verb, which is a verb that takes an object. Blackball may also mean to severely ostracize someone from social activities. The word blackball appears in 1770, referring to a negative vote. Voting through the process of a voter placing either a white ball, or positive vote, into a ballot box or a black ball, or negative vote, into a ballot box, means that voters will remain anonymous and are not forced to give any reason for a negative vote. In some clubs a single black ball means a candidate will be denied membership in the organization, in other clubs there must be two black balls to justify excluding a potential member. Related words are blackballs, blackballed and blackballing.


Mike Mohler, the president of the Virginia firefighters’ union, who was part of Mr. Schaitberger’s campaign team in 2000 and 2004, says he believes he was blackballed for questioning the general president’s leadership. (The New York Times)

The European heads of state resented the Spanish even more, and thus began the infamous “Black Legend” that has blackballed Spanish descendants for centuries, regardless of the wonderful things many have done: setting up universities, hospitals, schools and missions, entertainment and land development. (The St. Augustine Record)

She later told an interviewer that Warner had her “blackballed” all over town. (The Washington Post)

Mo’Nique initially claimed she had been “blackballed” by Hollywood for alleged demands and “difficult” behaviour during the 2010 awards season, citing comments made to her by Daniels over her failure to campaign for the film. (The Guardian)