1. a slip or sheet of paper, cardboard, or the like, on which a voter marks his or her vote.
  2. the method of secret voting by means of printed or written ballots or by means of voting machines.
  3. voting in general, or a round of voting: Our candidate was defeated on the third ballot.
  4. the list of candidates to be voted on: They succeeded in getting her name placed on the ballot.
  5. the right to vote: to gain the ballot after years of struggle.
  6. the whole number of votes cast or recorded.
  7. a system or the practice of drawing lots: The assassin would be chosen by ballot.
  8. (formerly) a little ball used in voting.

verb (used without object), bal·lot·ed, bal·lot·ing.

  1. to vote by ballot: to ballot against a candidate.
  2. to draw lots: to ballot for places.

verb (used with object), bal·lot·ed, bal·lot·ing.

  1. to canvass or solicit (a group, membership, etc.) for votes: Members were balloted on the resolution.
  2. to select, especially for military service, by ballot: Certain age groups will not be balloted at this time.


  1. 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
  2. an instance of voting, usually in secret using ballot papers or a voting machine
  3. the paper on which a vote is recorded
  4. a list of candidates standing for office
  5. the number of votes cast in an election
  6. a random selection of successful applicants for something in which the demand exceeds the supply, esp for shares in an oversubscribed new issue
  7. NZ the allocation by ballot of farming land among eligible candidates, such as ex-servicemen
  8. NZ a low-interest housing loan allocated by building societies by drawing lots among its eligible members

verb -lots, -loting or -loted

  1. to vote or elicit a vote fromwe balloted the members on this issue
  2. (tr usually foll by for) to select (officials, etc) by lot or ballot or to select (successful applicants) at random
  3. (tr often foll by for) to vote or decide (on an issue, etc)

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.

see stuff the ballot box.

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