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A ban is, generally, any decree that prohibits something.

File:No smoking symbol.svg

Smoking is banned in public buildings in many parts of the world.

Bans are formed for the prohibition of activities within a certain political territory. Some see this as a negative act (equating it to a form of censorship or discrimination) and others see it as maintaining the "status quo". Bans in commerce are referred to as embargos.


In current English usage, ban is mostly synonymous with prohibition. Historically, Old English (ge)bann is a derivation from the verb bannan "to summon, command, proclaim" from an earlier Common Germanic *bannan "to command, forbid, banish, curse". The modern sense "to prohibit" is influenced by the cognate Old Norse banna "to curse, to prohibit" and also from Old French ban, ultimately a loan from Old Frankish, meaning "outlawry, banishment".

The Indo-European etymology of the Germanic term is from a root *bha- meaning "to speak". Its original meaning was magical, referring to utterances that carried a power to curse.

Banning marriages

A marriage ban is used to prevent certain categories of people from marrying each other. For much of the 1800s and 1900s there were bans on marriage between people of different races (interracial marriage) in the United States. However, the ban on interracial marriage was overturned by the Supreme Court of the United States in 1957 in the landmark civil rights case Loving vs. Virginia, in which the Court ruled Virginia's miscegenation law an unconstitutional violation of the fundamental right to marriage. Historically, child marriage was common, but is now banned in some countries. There have also been bans enacted on same sex marriage.

Banned persons under Apartheid

During the apartheid régime in South Africa, the National Party government issued banning orders to individuals seen to be threats to its power—often black politicians or organizations—and acted as suppression orders. Individuals banned by the Suppression of Communism Act could not communicate with more than one person at any time unless at home (thus removing them from partaking in political activities), travel to areas without government approval, or leave the country.

Banning in games and Internet Forums

In internet forums and online multiplayer games, the host of the game often has the power to ban players who do not follow the rules, or who make little effort to get along with fellow players. When banned, the user is unable to reconnect to the server. In some cases, especially in games which use account systems, the user may create a new account to attempt to bypass the ban system. In this case, the IP address may be banned from connecting.

IP address banning (sometimes called 'blocking' or 'permabanning') is commonplace in internet culture. The "banhammer", "banstick," or "banbomb" is a metaphorical tool used in popular culture. For instance, a moderator or host is sometimes said to "wield the banhammer" against disruptive individuals.

See also


Further reading

cs:Ban (internet) de:Bann (Recht) pl:Ban (informatyka) ksh:Bann ru:Бан (Интернет) simple:Ban sv:Förbud

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