Definition of ballot in English:


Line breaks: bal¦lot
Pronunciation: /ˈbalət


  • 1A system of voting secretly and in writing on a particular issue: a strike ballot [mass noun]: the commissioners were elected by ballot
    More example sentences
    • Every district secretary, every regional secretary was elected by ballot.
    • Teachers in four other schools are to hold consultative strike ballots over the same issue.
    • Eurotunnel train drivers are to hold a strike ballot over the issue of trade union recognition, it was announced this week.
  • 1.1 (the ballot) The total number of votes cast in a ballot: he won 54 per cent of the ballot
    More example sentences
    • The turnout for the ballot was 68 per cent, and of those, the vote was 2,947 in favour of action and 2,246 against.
    • There was a low turnout in the ballot with just 30 percent of teachers voting.
    • With less than 1 percent of ballot votes counted, the U.S.-backed Karzai is ahead with 56 percent of the vote.
  • 1.2The piece of paper used to record a person’s vote: there were fifty-three abstentions and twenty-eight spoilt ballots
    More example sentences
    • The paper ballots will be checked at election offices while votes recorded in the machines will be examined at an army base.
    • Which is worse: e-voting without a paper record or paper ballots?
    • The voting machines and paper ballots for said election shall carry the following designation, which shall be the title and submission clause.
  • 1.3A lottery held to decide the allocation of tickets, shares, or other things among a number of applicants: a ballot decides which investors will be successful in buying the stock
    More example sentences
    • The Ticket Window, sometimes known as a ticket ballot or lottery, will give every applicant an equal chance of getting seats for individual matches.
    • Now they are holding a ballot to decide which of the villains will win the dubious honour of having his or her effigy burned on a Guy Fawkes bonfire next month.
    • Maureen was one of 1,000 lucky people to have won tickets for the event in a competition ballot, and among an estimated 200 to have seen both events.

verb (ballots, balloting, balloted)

[with object] Back to top  
  • 1(Of an organization) ask (members) to vote secretly on an issue: the union is preparing to ballot its members on industrial action
    More example sentences
    • Last April's NUT annual conference unanimously voted to ballot members on a boycott of the SAT's.
    • Union members were balloted and voted for the one-day strike next Wednesday.
    • At its annual conference in April, the National Union of Teachers voted to ballot its members on boycotting the testing of pupils at ages seven, 11 and 14 in England.
  • 1.1 [no object] Cast one’s vote on an issue: [with infinitive]: ambulance crews balloted unanimously to reject the deal
    More example sentences
    • Firefighters in York have voted unanimously to ballot for county-wide strike action in protest at the controversial sacking of a colleague.
    • Cabin crew will ballot for industrial action this week.
    • A mass meeting of over 500 Unison members held at the end of November voted unanimously to ballot for further action in support of the social workers.
  • 1.2Decide the allocation of (something) to applicants by drawing lots: if the offer is oversubscribed acceptances will be balloted
    More example sentences
    • If you're interested in 2 Arsenal tickets let me know - my husband and I balloted for tickets before we knew the fixture list.
    • I balloted for tickets, did whatever I was asked to do to "increase my chances of getting tickets" but still - no tickets.
    • The Junior concert has 'caught on' to such an extent that tickets will soon have to be balloted for.


mid 16th century (originally denoting a small coloured ball placed in a container to register a vote): from Italian ballotta, diminutive of balla (see ball1).

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