Build your vocabulary with Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day! Each day a Merriam-Webster editor offers insight into a fascinating new word -- explaining its meaning, current use, and little-known details about its origin.
July 15th, 2016
Episode 586 of 797 episodes
Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for July 15, 2016 is: ostracize \AH-struh-syze\ verb 1 : to exile by ostracism 2 : to exclude from a group by common consent Examples: Athletes who cheat risk being ostracized by their peers and colleagues—in addition to suffering professional ruin. "Hateful speech is employed to offend, marginalize andostracize.It's replaced reasonable persuasion by those too lazy or ignorant to be thoughtful." — Tom Fulks, The San Luis Obispo (California) Tribune, 26 Dec. 2015 Did you know? In ancient Greece, prominent citizens whose power or influence threatened the stability of the state could be exiled by a practice called ostracism. Voters would elect to banish another citizen by writing that citizen's name down on a potsherd. Those receiving enough votes would then be subject to temporary exile from the state (usually for ten years). The English verb ostracize can mean "to exile by the ancient method of ostracism," but these days it usually refers to the general exclusion of one person from a group at the agreement of its members. Ostracism and ostracize derive from the Greek ostrakizein ("to banish by voting with potsherds"). Its ancestor, the Greek ostrakon ("shell" or "potsherd"), also helped to give English the word oyster.