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From Ancient Greek ὀστρακισμός (ostrakismós, banishment by means of voting with pot shards), from ὀστρακίζειν (ostrakízein, ostracize) + -ισμός (-ismós, -ism), from ὄστρακον (óstrakon, clay pot).



ostracism (countable and uncountable, plural ostracisms)

  1. (historical) In ancient Athens (and some other cities), the temporary banishment by popular vote of a citizen considered dangerous to the state. [from 16th c.]
  2. (figuratively) Banishment by some general consent. [from 17th c.]
    • 1602—3, Lady Arbella Stuart, Sara Jayne Steen, editor, The Letters of Lady Arbella Stuart, New York: Oxford University Press, published 1994, page 171:
      If I have deserved the land should spue me out, I will feed my selfe with the idle and windy conceite of an Ostracisme, and my unregarded poore selfe shall be all the richesse and commpany I crave to transport and if a Princes word [].
  3. Temporary exclusion from a community or society.


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