General English

General Science

  • noun an official statement forbidding something, or saying that something should not be done


  • noun an order which forbids someone from doing something or which makes an activity illegal


  • noun a law which makes an activity or object illegal
  • verb to make an activity or object illegal


  • noun an order which forbids somebody from doing something
  • verb to forbid something or to make something illegal


  • acronym forbond anticipation note
    (written as BAN)

Origin & History of “ban”

Ban is one of a widespread group of words in the European languages. Its ultimate source is the Indo-European base *bha-, which also gave English fame (from a derivative of Latin fārī ‘speak’) and phase (from Greek phāsis). The Germanic offshoot of the Indo-European base, and source of the English word, was *bannan, which originally probably meant simply ‘speak, proclaim’. This gradually developed through ‘proclaim with threats’ to ‘put a curse on’, but the sense ‘prohibit’ does not seem to have arisen until as late as the 19th century.

The Germanic base *bann- was borrowed into Old French as the noun ban ‘proclamation’. From there it crossed into English and probably mingled with the cognate English noun, middle English iban (the descendant of Old English gebann). It survives today in the plural form banns ‘proclamation of marriage’. The adjective derived from Old French ban was banal, acquired by English in the 18th century. It originally meant ‘of compulsory military service’ (from the word’s basic sense of ‘summoning by proclamation’); this was gradually generalized through ‘open to everyone’ to ‘commonplace’.