Word of the Day

Saturday, October 09, 1999


\OS-truh-syz\ , transitive verb;
To banish or expel from a community or group; to cast out from social, political, or private favor.
[Greek Antiquity] To exile by ostracism; to banish by a popular vote, as at Athens.
As for scientists who might be tempted to pursue the theory, he says, they worry that their colleagues might ostracize them for stepping out of line and that their funding could suffer.
-- Jon Cohen, "The Hunt for the Origin of AIDS", The Atlantic, October 2000
New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani called Monday on the members of the United Nations to unite in a global effort to eradicate terrorism and to ostracize countries that refuse to join.
-- Stevenson Swanson, "Giuliani asks global effort on terrorism", Chicago Tribune, October 2, 2001
Ostracize is from Greek ostrakizein, "to banish by voting with potsherds," from ostrakon, "a piece of earthenware, a potsherd." Ostracism was practiced at Athens to get rid of a citizen whose power was considered too great for the liberty of the state. Each voter wrote on a potsherd the name of a person he wished banished. The man named on the most ostraka was exiled, normally for a period of ten years.
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