Definition of blackball in English:



  • Reject (someone, usually a candidate applying to become a member of a private club), typically by means of a secret ballot.

    ‘her husband was blackballed when he tried to join the country club’
    • ‘He was almost blackballed from the Alpine Club and on one occasion even assaulted.’
    • ‘The member of the Board of Directors who blackballed the candidate has finally been convinced to remove his objection.’
    • ‘The result was I was blackballed from finding other work in southern CA.’
    • ‘I was blackballed and blacklisted, vilified and scarified and was reduced to having to go incognito to the pub to enjoy a pint or three.’
    • ‘They blackballed all DVD proposals that didn't include robust security measures, and threatened to do anything in their power to kill formats that didn't adequately protect content.’
    • ‘The embarrassment to baseball was so great that soon enough, after Dad sold the club, I was essentially blackballed from Major League Baseball.’
    • ‘I would almost certainly lose my job, and be blackballed from the PR industry, so if I relied on my income to fulfil my duties to my family, I would be choosing to risk their welfare by speaking out.’
    • ‘The report was questionable, he said, given the fact that other ministers who were also running for the presidency were not being blackballed.’
    • ‘When it came to the inquiry, all the people who had flocked to advise him blackballed him.’
    • ‘Do so and you'll be blackballed, is the message.’
    • ‘Oh, how right the EU Parliament was to blackball him from the EU Commission!’
    • ‘This should have had a negative impact on his career, actors have been blackballed for a single such act, never mind a seemingly endless succession of them.’
    • ‘In theory at least, any one of its 148 members could blackball an agreement.’
    • ‘Failure to reply with a swift ‘Yes’, even a slight hesitation, was enough to blackball the hopeful candidate.’
    • ‘Look how the channel has blackballed artists who dared to speak in opposition to the war, while also organizing pro-war rallies across the country.’
    • ‘Back then, while everyone knew Leo had been blackballed, it was hushed up.’
    • ‘You have a situation whereby a member from a home state can essentially blackball a nominee, and the nominee never knows what hit them.’
    • ‘They were such snobs; they blackballed anyone they didn't like.’
    • ‘After all, the intellectual loner who sneers at the affairs of lesser men hardly tallies with the man whose membership application for the club was recently blackballed by four members.’
    • ‘Another was blackballed because the women felt he established more eye contact with the male than the female interviewers.’
    reject, debar, bar, ban, vote against, blacklist, exclude, shut out, leave out in the cold
    expel, drum out, oust, cashier, ostracize, repudiate
    boycott, snub, shun, spurn, cold-shoulder, give the cold shoulder to
    View synonyms


Late 18th century: from the practice of registering an adverse vote by placing a black ball in a ballot box.