Pet"al*ism\, n. [Gr. ?, fr. ? a leaf: cf. F. p['e]talisme.] (Gr. Antiq.) A form of sentence among the ancient Syracusans by which they banished for five years a citizen suspected of having dangerous influence or ambition. It was similar to the ostracism in Athens; but olive leaves were used instead of shells for ballots.
Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary, © 1996, 1998 MICRA, Inc.
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