Blacklisted – Meaning, Origin and Usage

Are you looking for a way to tell someone that they are not, or no longer, welcome in a space? You could tell them that they have been blacklisted.

Keep reading to discover what this word means and what its history is, as well as how to use it.


The term “blacklist” (initially spelled as two words — “black list”) denotes a list of individuals, entities, or even entire countries that have been deemed undesirable or unwelcome.

In modern usage, the word “blacklist” can serve as either a noun or a verb. Someone can be “on a blacklist”, or a government or other organization can be said to have made the decision to “blacklist someone“.

“Blacklisted” is the past tense of the verb form of blacklist, meaning that the decision to blacklist that person or group has already been made.

Example Usage

The word “blacklisted” can be used in a variety of ways to indicate that the person or group being discussed has been punished, is under suspicion, or is otherwise unwelcome. Examples would include:

  • IP addresses operated by VPN providers receive a lot of traffic, and are often blacklisted.
  • My little brother was blacklisted from that Minecraft server after abusing a glitch.
  • Several highly-influential politicians and entrepreneurs from the opposing nation have now been blacklisted and are unable to travel here going forward.
  • I was blacklisted from the Ritz hotel after stealing towels.


The color black has, in the English language, long been associated with metaphorical forms of darkness, such as death, sickness, mourning, sin, and punishment. It is no surprise that this color made its way into the term “blacklist” as well.

English dramatist Philip Massinger is believed to have coined the term “black list”, win this black list, which he used in the tragedy The Unnatural Combat, in the year 1639.

Just two decades later, the term was used again when the English monarchy was restored following the rule of Oliver Cromwell and the Protectorate. This time, it pertained to a list of individuals involved in the murder of the British monarch Charles I. Charles II, who was crowned after the restoration, referred to this as a black list.

The term eventually grew to be so commonly used that it transformed into a single word — blacklist.

Historical examples of entities and individuals who have been blacklisted include:

  • Former workers being blacklisted following trade union activities, beginning in the 1700s.
  • Actors being blacklisted for being suspected of communist sympathies, starting in 1947.
  • Patients being blacklisted for not being able to pay for their medical needs ahead of time, in South Africa in the early 1900s.

In today’s world, variations of the blacklist, especially the past tense “blacklisted”, often refer to being blocked from participating in certain online platforms.

Words Similar to Blacklisted

Words that convey a similar meaning to “blacklisted” include:

  • Banned
  • Barred
  • Excluded
  • Forbidden from

Words Opposite to Blacklisted

Words with an opposite meaning would include:

  • Welcomed
  • Invited
  • Admitted to

Finally, the polar opposite is “whitelisted“. This generally means that someone has been approved to be presented in a space, and it is often said on the internet.

What Is the Correct Saying?

It is correct to say that “someone was blacklisted”, or that an entire entity has been blacklisted. In modern usage, it is more common to use the concept of blacklisting as a verb than as a noun — we speak of being blacklisted, rather than being on a blacklist.

Ways People May Say Blacklisted Incorrectly

Some people may, while understanding that blacklisting is associated with a punishment, use this word to indicate that they don’t want to have any dealings with that person anymore. Blacklisting is generally performed by organizations, however, and not individuals.

Acceptable Ways to Phrase Blacklisted

You can say that someone has been blacklisted if they are forbidden from gaining entry to a place or from obtaining services or employment there. This is true on the internet as well as in the physical world.

You can also say that an entity or concept has been blacklisted, particularly in the case of IP addresses.

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