\ ˈblak How to pronounce black (audio) \

Definition of black

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1 : having the very dark color of the night sky or the eye's pupil : of the color black (see black entry 2 sense 2) a black sweater a black dog as black as coal
2 Black or less commonly black
a : of or relating to any of various population groups of especially African ancestry often considered as having dark pigmentation of the skin but in fact having a wide range of skin colors Black Americans

Note: Capitalization of Black in this use is now widely established.

b : of or relating to Black people and often especially to African American people or their culture Black literature a Black college Black pride Black studies

Note: Capitalization of Black in this use is now widely established.

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 3)

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]
4 Black or less commonly black
a : a person belonging to any of various population groups of especially African ancestry often considered as having dark pigmentation of the skin but in fact having a wide range of skin colors

Note: Capitalization of Black in this use is now widely established.

b : african american

Note: Capitalization of Black in this use is now widely established.

Note: Use of the noun Black in the singular to refer to a person is considered offensive. The plural form Blacks is still commonly used by Black people and others to refer to Black people as a group or community, but the plural form too is increasingly considered offensive, and most style guides advise writers to use Black people rather than Blacks when practical.

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 the operating in the black — compare red sense 6


blacked; blacking; blacks

Definition of black (Entry 3 of 3)

intransitive verb

: to become black (see black entry 1) : blacken As she leaned against the stone cross … , the sky blacked with clouds.— Hugh Coleman Davidson

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

Other Words from black


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

Synonyms & Antonyms for black

Synonyms: Adjective

Synonyms: Noun

Antonyms: Adjective

Antonyms: Noun

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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 The shoe comes in three versatile colors — black, ivory and electric blue — and is offered in women's U.S. sizes 5-11. Buy it! People Staff, Peoplemag, 3 Aug. 2022 These stoneware plates ooze with boho details, like the cool matte finish and the monochromatic color options (cream, gray or black). Dylan Ogline, Forbes, 3 Aug. 2022 The sinkhole looked like a black wound in a green field. Allison Keeley, The New Yorker, 3 Aug. 2022 All summer, University of Louisville football players wore black shirts that said, ‘Finish,’ in white letters on the back. Alexis Cubit, The Courier-Journal, 3 Aug. 2022 Ziegler, 19, wore a cutout black gown, completing the look with bustier details. Kelly Wynne,, 2 Aug. 2022 Several responders soon emerged from a thicket of trees blocking part of the creek, pulling a sled container carrying a black body bag up the embankment. Cady Stanton, USA TODAY, 2 Aug. 2022 Video from Highway 96, along the Klamath River, shows trees burned black, charred vehicles on the side of the road with wheels melted off and destroyed structures, including the Klamath River Community Hall. Nouran Salahieh, CNN, 2 Aug. 2022 The Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety released a surveillance photo that captured the alleged suspect wearing a black baseball cap, camouflage jacket, dark pants, blue medical mask and dark backpack. Kyla Guilfoil, ABC News, 2 Aug. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Grab one in black to endlessly punch up all your favorite fits. Bernd Fischer, Men's Health, 2 Aug. 2022 However, Argro arrived without the items, clad in black and wearing a ski mask, the statement said. Sophie Reardon, CBS News, 27 July 2022 Cecilia said that after the shooting, a young boy yelled for help and told her a man dressed in black had shot his family. Tristan Balagtas,, 27 July 2022 Argro showed up without any of the items, dressed in black with a ski mask over his face, the release said. Amir Vera And Mark Morales, CNN, 27 July 2022 The bottle has also been reimagined in black and fitted with a special seal that celebrates the 25th anniversary of Usher’s hit album My Way. Rachel Cormack, Robb Report, 26 July 2022 The boy dressed in black, who was driving the car, reportedly locked the car doors and drove off, leaving the boy dressed in red behind, where he was arrested. Mike Mavredakis, Hartford Courant, 20 July 2022 Like the Mach-E, the faux grille is body color on the base LT trims, but framed in black to help break up the bland expanse found on the Tesla. Sam Abuelsamid, Forbes, 19 July 2022 Gibson had wiped spit on a man dressed in black and that act could have been charged as harassment but was not, Souede noted. oregonlive, 19 July 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Tate realizes the shell in Kya's notebook is Chase's, and like in the book, throws the shell into the water to hide the evidence before the film fades to black. Patrick Ryan, USA TODAY, 16 July 2022 But as the show fades to black, the Byrdes are in surprisingly good shape. Michael Schneider, Variety, 31 May 2022 Elegantly edited in segments that fade to black as the ice thaws between the siblings, there’s an air of timelessness. Carlos Aguilar, Los Angeles Times, 12 May 2022 The charcoal-gray dial, which fades to black at the rim, has a grainy texture deliberately reminiscent of antique camera cases. Alex Doak, CNN, 11 Apr. 2022 The video fades to black and the title Harry’s House is revealed. Izzy Colón, SPIN, 23 Mar. 2022 The giant white ball of light at the top of the dome slowly faded to black. New York Times, 18 Mar. 2022 In fact, each Nopalera bath soap is shaped like a nopal paddle, ranging in scents from the pink Flor de Mayo to black Noche Clara. Kristin Scharkey, Sunset Magazine, 16 Mar. 2022 Why would black, two-man lynch mobs be prowling late-night Chicago in January? Kyle Smith, National Review, 11 Mar. 2022 See More

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.

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

Learn More About black

Time Traveler for black

Time Traveler

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

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Dictionary Entries Near black

blab school



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Statistics for black

Last Updated

6 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Black.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 9 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for black


\ 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 of various groups of people having dark pigmentation of the skin
4 often capitalized : of or relating to African-American people or culture
5 : very sad or gloomy in a black mood
6 : unfriendly sense 1 a black look
7 : wicked sense 1 a black deed

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 group of people having dark skin used in pl.
Hint: Black is considered offensive when used as a singular noun referring to a person.
4 : an American having black African ancestors : african-american used in pl.
Hint: Black is considered offensive when used as a singular noun referring to a person.
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

Black biographical name (1)

\ ˈblak How to pronounce Black (audio) \

Definition of Black

 (Entry 1 of 3)

Hugo LaFayette 1886–1971 American jurist and politician


biographical name (2)

Definition of Black (Entry 2 of 3)

Sir James Whyte 1924–2010 British pharmacologist


geographical name

Definition of Black (Entry 3 of 3)

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 Black (audio) \ or in Vietnam Da \ ˈdä How to pronounce Black (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

More from Merriam-Webster on black

Nglish: Translation of black for Spanish Speakers

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


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