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Blackball vs. Blacklist: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Janet White || Updated on October 19, 2023
"Blackball" is to reject someone, typically from membership in a club or group; "Blacklist" is to shun or bar someone from certain privileges, services, or professions.

Key Differences

"Blackball" originates from a voting process where a white ball means acceptance and a black ball signifies rejection, typically in exclusive social clubs. It's personal and often pertains to a specific individual. On the other hand, "Blacklist" is a broader term, implying a list of individuals or entities that are being denied a particular privilege, service, or professional recognition due to unacceptable behavior or perceived disrepute.
While "Blackball" is an action taken by peers or members of a community or organization, often shrouded in secrecy and sometimes subject to the rules of the said community, "Blacklist" can be more official, potentially enacted by authorities or corporations, and is generally public and documented for reference.
"Blackball," being a verb, involves the act of rejection itself, a direct, singular action against an individual. "Blacklist," however, can be a verb or a noun, involving either the act of listing someone as undesirable or the list itself, indicating a sustained state of exclusion.
The act of "Blackballing" is often final and irrevocable, at least within the context of the specific group or society. "Blacklisting," while potentially long-lasting, might allow for the possibility of removal from the list if the individual or entity meets certain conditions or redeems themselves in the eyes of those who maintain the list.
"Blackball" and "Blacklist," despite their specific nuances, both carry negative connotations and can significantly impact an individual's or entity's social, professional, or economic opportunities, albeit on different scales and in different contexts.

Comparison Chart


Rejection from a group
Listing of barred individuals/entities


Verb only
Both noun and verb


Typically individual
Can be individual or collective


Often irreversible
May be reversible


Often secretive
Usually public

Blackball and Blacklist Definitions


To exclude socially; ostracize.
After the scandal, the community seemed to blackball him.


A list of banned or undesirable items.
The software automatically filters out sites on the blacklist.


To deny the opportunity to participate in.
The player was blackballed from the tournament for cheating.


To put on a list of persons barred from certain privileges or services.
The bar blacklisted rowdy patrons.


To reject or dismiss from consideration.
She was blackballed from the academic conference after allegations of misconduct.


A list of persons under suspicion, disfavor, etc.
His name appeared on the company's blacklist.


To vote against admitting someone into a group.
The committee decided to blackball the applicant due to controversial views.


To ostracize or exclude from a group or society.
The author was blacklisted for her controversial opinions.


To block or impede (a potential member).
Rumors led to him being blackballed from the club.


To identify (someone) to be banned from certain activities or privileges.
The organization blacklisted corrupt politicians.


A negative vote, especially one that blocks the admission of an applicant to an organization.


A list of persons or organizations that have incurred disapproval or suspicion or are to be boycotted or otherwise penalized.


A small black ball used as a negative ballot.


A list of email addresses, IP addresses, domains, or keywords, that are expressly blocked by an email account.


To vote against, especially to veto the admission of.


To place on or as if on a blacklist.


To shut out from social or commercial participation; ostracize or boycott.


A list or set of people or entities to be shunned or banned.
The software included a lengthy blacklist of disreputable websites to block.


(countable) A rejection; a vote against admitting someone.


(transitive) To place on a blacklist; to mark a person or entity as one to be shunned or banned.
You can blacklist known spammers with that button.


(countable) A black ball used to indicate such a negative vote.
Regardless how many other people may have voted to approve a candidate for membership, a single blackball will reject the candidate.


A list of people who are out of favor


(countable) A kind of large black sweet; a niggerball.


Put on a blacklist so as to banish or cause to be boycotted;
Many books were blacklisted by the Nazis


A substance for blacking shoes, boots, etc. or for taking impressions of engraved work.


(uncountable) A game, a standardized version of the English version of eight-ball.
Reds and yellows


(transitive) To vote against, especially in an exclusive organization.
If you're not from a moneyed, well-connected family, you can count on getting blackballed from the fraternity.


(transitive) To ostracize.


A composition for blacking shoes, boots, etc.; also, one for taking impressions of engraved work.


A ball of black color, esp. one used as a negative in voting; - in this sense usually two words.


To vote against, by putting a black ball into a ballot box; to reject or exclude, as by voting against with black balls; to ostracize.
He was blackballed at two clubs in succession.


To blacken (leather, shoes, etc.) with blacking.


The act of excluding someone by a negative vote or veto


Expel from a community or group


Vote against; refuse to endorse; refuse to assent;
The President vetoed the bill


Is "Blacklist" always public?

Not always, but it's generally known to concerned parties.

Is "Blackballing" legal?

It depends on the context and local laws.

Does "Blackball" require a consensus?

Often, yes, especially in clubs or societies.

Can companies "Blacklist" customers?

Yes, typically due to misconduct or non-compliance.

What's on a "Blacklist"?

Names of individuals/entities barred from certain activities or services.

Does "Blackball" involve a formal process?

Typically, especially in memberships or clubs.

Can "Blackball" be used in formal settings?

Yes, it's often used in formal organizations or clubs.

Are "Blacklists" legal?

They can be, but it depends on the context and jurisdiction.

Can you appeal a "Blackball" decision?

It varies by organization, but often it's difficult.

Who can put you on a "Blacklist"?

Authorities, organizations, or community leaders.

How long does a "Blacklist" last?

It varies—could be temporary or permanent.

What's the impact of being "Blackballed"?

Social or professional exclusion from a specific group.

Who enforces a "Blacklist"?

The authority or group that created it.

Can one be both "Blackballed" and "Blacklisted"?

Potentially, as both involve forms of exclusion, but in different contexts.

Do "Blackball" and "Blacklist" have similar origins?

Not exactly; "Blackball" is from voting practices, "Blacklist" from lists of undesirables.

Is "Blackballing" anonymous?

Often, especially in traditional voting contexts.

Is "Blackball" used in politics?

It can be, in the context of memberships or endorsements.

Can "Blackball" decisions be biased?

Potentially, as they may involve personal judgments.

Is being "Blacklisted" different from being illegal?

Yes, "Blacklisting" is an exclusion, not a legal judgment.

Can you remove yourself from a "Blacklist"?

Possibly, by addressing the reasons for inclusion.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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