\ ˈblak How to pronounce black (audio) \

Definition of black

 (Entry 1 of 6)

1 : of the color black (see black entry 2 sense 2) a black sweater a black dog as black as coal
2 or Black
a : of or relating to any of various population groups having dark pigmentation of the skin black Americans
b : of or relating to African American people or their culture black literature a black college Black pride Black studies
3 : dressed in black (see black entry 2 sense 2) playing for the black team
4 : dirty, soiled hands black with grime
5a : characterized by the absence of light a black night
b : reflecting or transmitting little or no light black water
c : served without milk or cream black coffee
6a old-fashioned + literary : thoroughly sinister or evil : wicked When the King heard of this black deed, in his grief and rage he denounced relentless war against his Barons …— Charles Dickens
b : indicative of condemnation or discredit got a black mark for being late
c : heavy, serious the play was a black intrigue
7 : connected with or invoking the supernatural and especially the devil black magic the black arts
8a : very sad, gloomy, or calamitous black despair
b : marked by the occurrence of disaster black Friday
9a : characterized by hostility or angry discontent : sullen black resentment filled his heart
b : distorted or darkened by anger his face was black with rage
10 : having dark skin, hair, and eyes the black Irish
11 chiefly British : subject to boycott by trade-union members as employing or favoring nonunion workers or as operating under conditions considered unfair by the trade union a ship that was declared black by the union
12a of propaganda : conducted so as to appear to originate within an enemy country and designed to weaken enemy morale Black propaganda … is the business of going to elaborate ends to spread half-true, misleading or downright false information to get your enemy in trouble.— Everett G. Martin
b : characterized by or connected with the use of black propaganda Press reports say that in addition to dropping leaflets over urban areas, messages were broadcast over two "black" radio stations, … both of which were operated by the CIA.Strategic Intelligence
13 : characterized by grim, distorted, or grotesque satire black humor
14 : of or relating to covert intelligence operations black government programs
15 : having a very deep or low register (see register entry 1 sense 4b) a bass with a black voice



Definition of black (Entry 2 of 6)

1 : a pigment or dye of the color black : a black pigment or dye especially : one consisting largely of carbon
2 : the achromatic (see achromatic sense 3) color of least lightness characteristically perceived to belong to objects that neither reflect nor transmit light walls painted in black
3 : something that is black: such as
a : black clothing looks good in black
b : a black animal (such as a horse)
c baseball : the narrow, black edge of home plate a pitch on the black [=a pitch that crosses over the very edge of home plate]
4a : a person belonging to any of various population groups having dark pigmentation of the skin
b : african american

Note: Use of the noun black in the singular to refer to a person is considered offensive. The plural form blacks is commonly used to refer to black people as a group or community.

a position supported by both blacks and whites blacks and other people of color
5 in board games : the pieces of a dark color in a board game for two players (such as chess) black moves second
6 : total or nearly total absence of light the black of night
7 : the condition of making a profit usually used with theoperating in the black — compare red sense 6


blacked; blacking; blacks

Definition of black (Entry 3 of 6)

intransitive verb

: to become black (see black entry 1)

transitive verb

1 : to make black blacked his boots
2 chiefly British : to declare (something, such as a business or industry) subject to boycott by trade-union members


biographical name (1)
\ ˈblak How to pronounce Black (audio) \

Definition of Black (Entry 4 of 6)

Hugo LaFayette 1886–1971 American jurist and politician


biographical name (2)

Definition of Black (Entry 5 of 6)

Sir James Whyte 1924–2010 British pharmacologist


geographical name

Definition of Black (Entry 6 of 6)

1 river 101 miles (162 kilometers) long in east central Louisiana flowing south into the Red River
2 or in China Amo \ ˈä-​ˈmō How to pronounce Amo (audio) \ or in Vietnam Da \ ˈdä How to pronounce Da (audio) \ river 500 miles (805 kilometers) long in southeastern Asia rising in central Yunnan, China, and flowing southeast to the Red River in northern Vietnam

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from black


blackish \ ˈbla-​kish How to pronounce blackish (audio) \ adjective
blackly adverb
blackness noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for black

Synonyms: Adjective

Synonyms: Noun

Antonyms: Adjective

Antonyms: Noun

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Examples of black in a Sentence

Adjective a little black dress blends into the night very well Noun The wall was painted in black. a mixture of grays and blacks She was dressed in black. Verb He blacked his boots with polish. Labor union members have blacked the company.
See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective It’s been said repeatedly since South Carolina, for instance, that Sanders’s anti-establishment stance alienated him from ordinary Democrats, particularly black voters, less hostile to the party’s leadership. Osita Nwanevu, The New Republic, "After Bernie," 19 Mar. 2020 Across the three states voting Tuesday, black voters showed a strong preference for Mr. Biden—but Mr. Sanders won over more Latino support in Arizona and Illinois, according to AP VoteCast. Joshua Jamerson, WSJ, "The Top Takeaways From Tuesday’s Primaries," 18 Mar. 2020 After a sluggish start to the primary season, Biden has surged to the front of the field, drawing overwhelming support from black voters and consolidating the backing of several more moderate rivals who have dropped out of the race. Anchorage Daily News, "‘Bigger than any one of us’: Biden, Sanders take on pandemic," 16 Mar. 2020 Despite losing black voters overwhelmingly, Sanders actually received slightly better numbers among voters of color in Michigan than four years ago. Joey Garrison, USA TODAY, "Biden has vastly outperformed Clinton in some primaries. Is that bad news for Trump come November?," 13 Mar. 2020 The restaurant, best known for its chicken & waffles, made the Freep's annual Best New Restaurant List and became a fixture on Democratic political campaigns courting black voters. Mark Kurlyandchik, Detroit Free Press, "Detroit favorite Kuzzo's Chicken & Waffles to reopen Saturday despite coronavirus concerns," 13 Mar. 2020 And in states such as Virginia and North Carolina, Sanders's electoral vulnerability with black voters was on full display. Joseph Simonson, Washington Examiner, "Joe Biden now the presumptive Democratic nominee," 10 Mar. 2020 But recent polls have shown Sanders gaining ground among black voters, which would undermine Biden’s strategy. Jennifer Epstein,, "Biden Says Trump Will Leave White House: Campaign Update," 10 Mar. 2020 Quentin James, president of The Collective, said the 2020 election cycle will be one of the most consequential in American history and there is a critical need for black voters to participate. Mike Cason |, al, "Bloomberg donates to black voter registration effort in Alabama," 9 Mar. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The first was a purebred English black Labrador, which apparently meant he’d been bred to have an outlandishly pure libido. Marc Peruzzi, Outside Online, "Your Trail Dog Sucks (Mine Does, Too)," 18 Mar. 2020 Being black has a lot to do with my being a good designer. Laird Borrelli-persson, Vogue, "Willi Smith Brought Fashion to the Streets—Now the Cooper Hewitt Is Bringing the American Sportswear Pioneer Home to You," 16 Mar. 2020 The selections mean council retains the same demographic balance that citizens chose in 2017 for a four-year term – six men, four white and two black; two women, one black and one white. Sharon Coolidge,, "P.G. Sittenfeld taps Herald publisher Jan-Michele Lemon Kearney for Tamaya Dennard's vacated Cincinnati City Council seat," 11 Mar. 2020 Sanders had a problem attracting blacks four years ago against Clinton. Ledyard King, USA TODAY, "Joe Biden racks up more big wins, prompting powerful Democratic groups to line up behind him," 11 Mar. 2020 Although middle-aged blacks are still more likely to die than middle-aged whites, their mortality has also fallen by more than 30 percent since the early 1990s. Helen Epstein, The New York Review of Books, "Left Behind," 10 Mar. 2020 The skin under the polar bear's fur is actually black; this black is evident only on the nose. Fox News, "10 different kinds of bear: Everything you need to know about the huge mammals," 10 Mar. 2020 And blacks lost half of their wealth due to the 2008 economic collapse. John Blake, CNN, "Socialism appeals to many black voters. But that's not helping Bernie. Here's why," 10 Mar. 2020 In North Carolina and Alabama, two states that voted on Super Tuesday that have sizable black populations, Biden won among blacks handily – with 62% of the black vote in North Carolina and 72% in Alabama. Todd Spangler, Detroit Free Press, "Free Press poll: Biden holds huge 24-point edge over Sanders in Michigan," 9 Mar. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb But despite his historic role, Revels has been criticized for doing too little to help black Americans and for supporting amnesty for former Confederate slaveholders during his Senate service. Erin Blakemore, National Geographic, "The first black U.S. senator lived an extraordinary life," 20 Feb. 2020 The Rankins story was one of several State of the Union introductions that appeared to be overtures to black voters, and the second to be shown to be less than truthful. Bernard Condon,, "Trump’s story about Cincinnati veteran’s comeback was not quite true," 13 Feb. 2020 In Moscow, blacked-out to withstand German air raids, his hosts provided him with a bomb shelter equipped with caviar and champagne. The Economist, "The art of the shadow deal Presidents have sometimes favoured back channels in foreign policy," 21 Nov. 2019 The music industry narrowly avoided an extinction event around the turn of the millennium, when online file-sharing and high-speed streaming made everything from The Beatles to black metal free of charge (albeit illegally). Washington Post, "Paul McCartney And Lady Gaga Find an Ally Against YouTube," 14 Feb. 2019 In addition to, or as a result of, the plants have black staining down the trunks and are weeping a thick, black, sticky substance that smells of fermenting fruit. oregonlive, "Ask an expert: Can I chip our dying red alder tree that has a bacterial infection?," 27 Oct. 2019 One problem may have been that, last month, an internal campaign memo was leaked, which suggested that Buttigieg’s lack of support in South Carolina is attributable to black voters’ discomfort with his open references to his homosexuality. Jelani Cobb, The New Yorker, "The 2020 Democrats Converge on Atlanta, Signalling Georgia’s New Political Importance," 20 Nov. 2019 The suit accuses Netflix of a lack of diversity in its senior leadership ranks, and a history of insensitivity to black people. Gene Maddaus,, "Mo’Nique files race and sex discrimination suit against Netflix," 14 Nov. 2019 Both seemingly liberal places (although, to my knowledge, Graham Potter has never blacked up), with middling sporting gravitas., "Rugby World Cup 2019: Comparing Every RWC Nation With Their Premier League Counterpart," 20 Sep. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'black.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of black


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


13th century, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense

History and Etymology for black

Adjective, Noun, and Verb

Middle English blak, from Old English blæc; akin to Old High German blah black, and probably to Latin flagrare to burn, Greek phlegein

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about black

Time Traveler for black

Time Traveler

The first known use of black was before the 12th century

See more words from the same century

Statistics for black

Last Updated

24 Mar 2020

Cite this Entry

“Black.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 1 Apr. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for black



Financial Definition of black

What It Is

Black is slang for profit. Profit, also called net income, is the amount remaining after all costs, depreciation, interest, taxes, and other expenses have been deducted from total sales. Profit is also referred to as the bottom line, net profit, or net earnings. The formula for profit is:

Total Sales - Total Expenses = Profit

Note that preferred stock dividends are typically included in the traditional net income calculation, but common stock dividends are not.

How It Works

Here is some information about Company XYZ for last year:

Using the formula and the information above, we can calculate that Company XYZ's profit was:

$1,000,000 - $500,000 - $300,000 - $100,000 - $5,000 + $1,000 - $10,000 - $10,000 = $76,000

This means that Company XYZ made $76,000 of profit last year. It was “in the black.”

Why It Matters

Philosophically speaking, being in the black is what motivates industry, entrepreneurship, and innovation. It is the very thing that enables people to feed themselves, clothe their families, create jobs, and set money aside for the future. It is not a vice, but rather an incentive to dream, take risks, and try harder. As Adam Smith, the founder of modern economics, put it, "It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker, that we can expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest.”

In the retail industry, companies often don’t become profitable until the fourth quarter, when Christmas shopping begins. This is the source of the term “Black Friday.”

Source: Investing Answers


How to pronounce Black (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of black

 (Entry 1 of 3)

: having the very dark color of coal or the night sky
: very dark because there is no light
: of or relating to a race of people who have dark skin and who come originally from Africa



English Language Learners Definition of black (Entry 2 of 3)

: the dark color of coal or the night sky
: black clothing
: a person belonging to a race of people who have dark skin : a black person



English Language Learners Definition of black (Entry 3 of 3)

old-fashioned + literary : to make (something) black
British : to refuse to work for or with (a business, employer, etc.) or to buy (goods, services, etc.)


\ ˈblak How to pronounce black (audio) \
blacker; blackest

Kids Definition of black

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1 : of the color of coal : colored black
2 : very dark a black night
3 often capitalized : of or relating to any peoples having dark skin and especially any of the original peoples of Africa south of the Sahara
4 : of or relating to Americans having ancestors from Africa south of the Sahara
5 : wicked sense 1 a black deed
6 : very sad or gloomy in a black mood
7 : unfriendly sense 1 a black look

Other Words from black

blackish adjective
blackness noun



Kids Definition of black (Entry 2 of 3)

1 : the color of coal : the opposite of white
2 : black clothing He is dressed in black.
3 : a person belonging to a race of people having dark skin
4 : an American having black African ancestors : african-american
5 : total or near total darkness the black of night
6 : the condition of making a profit The company is in the black.


blacked; blacking

Kids Definition of black (Entry 3 of 3)

black out
: to lose consciousness or the ability to see for a short time

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on black

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for black

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with black

Spanish Central: Translation of black

Nglish: Translation of black for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of black for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about black

Comments on black

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


See Definitions and Examples »

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

March 2020 Words of the Day Quiz

  • field of crocuses
  • Which is a synonym of rectitudinous?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Dictionary Devil

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!