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

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 .

In many countries, political parties may be and are banned. Germany. for instance, has a long history behind its modern practice of banning political parties. The Nazi Party was banned in 1923, non-Nazi parties such as the Communist Party were banned in 1933, the Nazi Party was again banned and the Communist Party un-banned after 1945, and the Communist Party was again banned in 1956 then un-banned in 1968.

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