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[bal-uh t] /ˈbæl ət/
a slip or sheet of paper, cardboard, or the like, on which a voter marks his or her vote.
the method of secret voting by means of printed or written ballots or by means of voting machines.
voting in general, or a round of voting:
Our candidate was defeated on the third ballot.
the list of candidates to be voted on:
They succeeded in getting her name placed on the ballot.
the right to vote:
to gain the ballot after years of struggle.
the whole number of votes cast or recorded.
a system or the practice of drawing lots:
The assassin would be chosen by ballot.
(formerly) a little ball used in voting.
verb (used without object), balloted, balloting.
to vote by ballot:
to ballot against a candidate.
to draw lots:
to ballot for places.
verb (used with object), balloted, balloting.
to canvass or solicit (a group, membership, etc.) for votes:
Members were balloted on the resolution.
to select, especially for military service, by ballot:
Certain age groups will not be balloted at this time.
Origin of ballot
1540-50; (< Middle French ballotte) < Italian ballotta (probably < Venetian), equivalent to ball(a) ball1 + -otta diminutive suffix
Related forms
balloter, noun
nonballoting, noun
preballot, verb (used with object), preballoted, preballoting.
reballot, noun, verb (used without object)
unballoted, adjective
Can be confused
ballad, ballet, ballot. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for ballot
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The ballot was first given to the Negro to defend him against this very thing.

    The Negro Problem Booker T. Washington, et al.
  • First, there was the temptation to act wrongly with the Negro's ballot.

    Booker T. Washington Emmett J. Scott and Lyman Beecher Stowe
  • We should be interested in the ballot for it is one way in which public opinion may be expressed.

    Citizenship Emma Guy Cromwell
  • We are to have universal suffrage, annual parliaments, and vote by ballot.

  • The right of man to the ballot is a logical deduction from the principles enunciated in the Declaration of Independence.

British Dictionary definitions for ballot


the democratic practice of selecting a representative, a course of action, or deciding some other choice by submitting the options to a vote of all qualified persons
an instance of voting, usually in secret using ballot papers or a voting machine
the paper on which a vote is recorded
a list of candidates standing for office
the number of votes cast in an election
a random selection of successful applicants for something in which the demand exceeds the supply, esp for shares in an oversubscribed new issue
(NZ) the allocation by ballot of farming land among eligible candidates, such as ex-servicemen
(NZ) a low-interest housing loan allocated by building societies by drawing lots among its eligible members
verb -lots, -loting, -loted
to vote or elicit a vote from: we balloted the members on this issue
(transitive) usually foll by for. to select (officials, etc) by lot or ballot or to select (successful applicants) at random
(transitive) often foll by for. to vote or decide (on an issue, etc)
Word Origin
C16: from Italian ballotta, literally: a little ball, from ballaball1
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for ballot

1540s, "small ball used in voting," also "secret vote taken by ballots," from Italian pallotte, diminutive of palla "ball," for small balls used as counters in secret voting (see balloon). Earliest references are to Venice. Ballot box attested from 1670s.


1540s, from ballot (n.). Related: Balloted; balloting.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Idioms and Phrases with ballot


The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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