Definition of ostracize in English:


(British ostracise)


  • 1with object Exclude from a society or group.

    ‘she was declared a witch and ostracized by the villagers’
    • ‘More frequently, individuals who did not conform to their place in the gender system were exposed and ostracized.’
    • ‘By the time of Campanella's death, only five years after his arrival in France, he had become ostracized, intellectually isolated, and antiquated.’
    • ‘Churches, unions, parties, bourgeois conventions, working-class and peasant cultures no longer furnish models which all are obliged to observe if they do not wish to be ostracized.’
    • ‘But banishing doubt runs the very real risk of banishing - or at least ostracizing - thought.’
    • ‘A young man could remain a member either until he married or reached the age of 3O or so, and in fact he could not refuse to become a member without being ostracized.’
    • ‘I would hate to see the children ostracized because of their father's activities.’
    • ‘He was deprived of many rights, and ostracized.’
    • ‘The couple were ostracised both financially and socially.’
    • ‘Those women who could not square their consciences and support the national war effort found themselves, like male conscientious objectors, ostracised and condemned as traitors.’
    • ‘He persisted in these tactics for several years despite being resisted actively by the other harvesters and ostracized on the wharf and in the community.’
    • ‘Those who stepped out of line, who adopted Western styles or non-conformist attitudes, found themselves ostracized, assaulted, and even imprisoned.’
    • ‘Apart from the shame of being socially ostracised, they must have indeed been in a state of shock and disbelief that their once privileged and envied existence was crumbling around them.’
    • ‘It was almost impossible for them to contemplate escaping to a society that would only ostracise them and condemn them as sinners.’
    • ‘Some police families worried about being ostracized by their own neighbors.’
    • ‘In privileging a discourse about the self and the other exclusively, the expat gaze overlooks identities ostracized or exiled by the national.’
    • ‘Einstein's theory of relativity was ostracized by many scientists in the cause of self-preservation, while quantum mechanics and cybernetics were virtually banned.’
    • ‘No longer ostracized from the national community, the painting and its maker had become powerful icons of national unity.’
    • ‘Superheroes have been outlawed and ostracized.’
    • ‘I do not want to be despised and ostracized wherever I go.’
    • ‘You would essentially be ostracising yourself from your society's culture.’
    exclude, shun, spurn, cold-shoulder, give someone the cold shoulder, reject, repudiate, boycott, blackball, blacklist, cast off, cast out, shut out, avoid, ignore, snub, cut dead, keep at arm's length, leave out in the cold, bar, ban, debar, banish, exile, expel
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  • 2(in ancient Greece) banish (an unpopular or overly powerful citizen) from a city for five or ten years by popular vote.

    ‘Themistocles was indeed out of favour at Athens by the end of the 470s, when he was ostracized’
    • ‘The chief result of the War was that the Athenian Empire was divided, the subject states of the Delian league were liberated, direct democracy failed and Pericles was ostracized.’
    • ‘Requiring that someone had over 6000 votes before being ostracised was an added feature to try to ensure that only when a person was unpopular with a large number of voters was exile the result.’
    • ‘He lost the battle, and was ostracized; most Athenians did not agree with him.’
    • ‘This was the issue on which opposition to him was focused by Thucydides son of Melesias, a relative of Cimon, but Thucydides was ostracized c. 443 and the building continued.’
    banish, exile, deport, evict, expatriate, dismiss, displace
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Mid 17th century: from Greek ostrakizein, from ostrakon ‘shell or potsherd’ (on which names were written in voting to banish unpopular citizens).