noun \ˈblak-ˌmāl\

: the crime of threatening to tell secret information about someone unless the person being threatened gives you money or does what you want

: something (such as money) that is received through blackmail

Full Definition of BLACKMAIL

:  a tribute anciently exacted on the Scottish border by plundering chiefs in exchange for immunity from pillage
a :  extortion or coercion by threats especially of public exposure or criminal prosecution
b :  the payment that is extorted
blackmail transitive verb
black·mail·er noun

Examples of BLACKMAIL

  1. She was a victim of blackmail.
  2. The servant extorted blackmail from her employer.


black + 1mail
First Known Use: 1552

Other Government and Politics Terms

agent provocateur, agitprop, autarky, cabal, egalitarianism, federalism, hegemony, plenipotentiary, popular sovereignty, socialism


Next Word in the Dictionary: black maire
Previous Word in the Dictionary: black maidenhair
All Words Near: blackmail

Seen & Heard

What made you want to look up blackmail? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).