\ˈblak \

Definition of black 

(Entry 1 of 6)

1a : of the color black (see black entry 2 sense 2) a black sweater a black dog as black as coal

b(1) : very dark in color his face was black with rage

(2) : having a very deep or low register (see register entry 1 sense 4b) a bass with a black voice

(3) : heavy, serious the play was a black intrigue

2a : having dark skin, hair, and eyes : swarthy the black Irish

b or Black

(1) : of or relating to any of various population groups having dark pigmentation of the skin black Americans

(2) : of or relating to the African American people or their culture black literature a black college Black pride Black studies

(3) : typical or representative of the most readily perceived characteristics of black culture trying to sound black

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 : thoroughly sinister or evil : wicked a black deed

b : indicative of condemnation or discredit got a black mark for being late

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

9 : characterized by hostility or angry discontent : sullen black resentment filled his heart

10 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

11a of propaganda : conducted so as to appear to originate within an enemy country and designed to weaken enemy morale disseminating black propaganda

b : characterized by or connected with the use of black propaganda black radio

12 : characterized by grim, distorted, or grotesque satire black humor

13 : of or relating to covert intelligence operations black government programs



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 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 the operating in the black — compare red


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 \

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 \ or in Vietnam Da \ˈdä \ river 500 miles (805 kilometers) long in southeastern Asia rising in central Yunnan, China, and flowing southeast to the Red River in northern Vietnam

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Other Words from black


blackish \ˈbla-kish \ adjective
blackly adverb
blackness noun

Examples of black in a Sentence


a little black dress blends into the night very well


The wall was painted in black. a mixture of grays and blacks She was dressed in black.


He blacked his boots with polish. Labor union members have blacked the company.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

The successful drug dealer manages to secure vast wealth while defying a criminal-justice system that has long brutalized black people. Josie Duffy Rice, The Atlantic, "The Gospel According to Pusha T," 12 July 2018 Latest in a rash of incidents Holland's case is the latest in a rash of viral incidents that involve black people being confronted or reported to the authorities for ordinary, non-criminal activity. Justin L. Mack, Indianapolis Star, "A video showing alleged racial profiling in Indianapolis went viral. This is the fallout.," 11 July 2018 For black people, in particular, success has its own fine print. Jason Parham, WIRED, "Sorry to Bother You: A Dizzying Satire That Hungers for Truth," 7 July 2018 Two black males reported being asked for cash up front by the taxi driver. Alissa Walker, Curbed, "Lyft and Uber serve low-income communities better than taxis, says study," 2 July 2018 Shooting in winter and in black-and-white, Hong renders the character's isolation palpable before revealing the details of his affair. Ben Sachs, Chicago Reader, "Hong Sang-soo and Kim Min-hee's real-life affair yields a trio of films about infidelity," 12 July 2018 Brit came out in wings in front of a red and black screen with a gothic, Tim Burton vibe. Cara Kelly, USA TODAY, "Britney Spears is back on tour and you better believe she's here to work," 13 July 2018 However, the spillover effect does not hold true when 50% or more of a neighborhood's residents are black or Latino. Tracy Jan,, "Study suggests white neigborhoods see more economic benefits from Airbnb," 12 July 2018 Bass lures: Senko’s, Bass Assassin jerkbaits, Storm Wild-Eyed Shad swimbaits, Bitter’s Baits Brushhawg lures and Zoom Horny Toads and black or purple plastic worms are a few of my favorites. Mark Blythe,, "Fishing 101: Learn how to start fishing in Central Florida," 11 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Sixty-three percent of Poway residents are white, 18 percent are Latino and 12 percent Asian and 1.4 percent are black, according to Bianca Bruno, Pomerado News, "Appeals panel backs Higginson's challenge to by-district elections," 15 June 2018 In the game, Xiong showed very little preparation or energy in the opening, letting the initiative pass to black, which Shankland had no trouble with by sacrificing an exchange. Chris Chase,, "Chess notes," 17 June 2018 The push for education on the part of emancipated blacks, then, can be considered a driving force in the ever-widening democratization of American life. Danielle Jackson, Longreads, "Why Beyoncé Placed HBCU’s at the Center of American Life," 7 May 2018 The gap was wider for taxis, which had a mean total wait time of 30 minutes for blacks, 24 minutes for Asians/Hispanics and 20 minutes for whites. Marco Della Cava, USA TODAY, "Blacks face longer wait times on Uber, Lyft than other races — and it's worse for taxis," 27 June 2018 Its centerpiece will be a statue of Knowles, a midwife to many blacks in Deerfield and beyond who were born at home before Jim Crow laws ended. Anne Geggis,, "Once forgotten, 'Old Colored Cemetery' turns into a place of honor," 23 June 2018 In the ’60s, to protest that Sunnybrook had a pool that was off-limits to blacks, NAACP activists hopped the fences and jumped in, chapter president Johnny Corson told me. Maria Panaritis,, "Pottstown took on the YMCA - and won. They're saving themselves along the way. | Maria Panaritis," 26 May 2018 The Fly Emirates sponsor, which was a shade of turquoise in 2017/18, will revert back to black as well., "PHOTOS: Leaked Images Show Potential Real Madrid Home & Away Kits for 2018/19," 24 May 2018 Because the ShakeDry membrane is black, the jacket only comes in black. Wes Siler, Outside Online, "The Hardshell Jacket of Your Ultralight Dreams," 24 May 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

In other words, will black and brown doulas be displaced? Danielle Jackson, Longreads, "A Frustrating Year of Reporting on Black Maternal Health," 14 June 2018 Reddington recalled blacking in and out as someone called 911 for help. Fox News, "Man accidentally shot by back-flipping FBI agent in a Denver nightclub recalls bizarre incident," 7 June 2018 Goldblatt’s 1989 book, The Transported of KwaNdebele documents the hours-long commute to city centers that black South Africans made from the segregated areas where they were forced to live. Brigit Katz, Smithsonian, "David Goldblatt, the South African Photographer Who Documented Life Under Apartheid, Has Died at 87," 27 June 2018 His vision started blacking in from all sides like it was being rubbed out with an eraser. Jacqueline Detwiler, Popular Mechanics, "This Pro Skydiver Was Invincible—Until his Heart Stopped Beating Regularly," 22 June 2018 Today is the first day of the rest of your (storm-tossed, wind-swept, blacked-out, hot, humid) life. Adam Rogers, WIRED, "Hurricane Season 2018 Has a Lot to Learn From Last Year," 1 June 2018 Swimming or diving goggles, with the inside lenses lined with sponge padding to black them out. Juan Ortega,, "The Kidnap Kit," 24 Apr. 2018 The Moroccon looks to have slightly blacked the popular model out somewhat, creating a boot almost as - if not more - aesthetically pleasing as his wonder goal., "Trendsetters: 18 of the Most Unique Boots Seen in the Premier League This Season," 11 Apr. 2018 Convenient security settings like camera/mic blacking, privacy folders, and secret screen. Valentina Palladino, Ars Technica, "Samsung Notebook 9 Pen review: Stylus convenience, devoid of style," 4 Apr. 2018

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.

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First Known Use of black


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


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


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


see black entry 1


see black entry 1

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Statistics for black

Last Updated

21 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for black

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

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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



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)

: to make (something) black

: to refuse to work for or with (a business, employer, etc.) or to buy (goods, services, etc.)


\ˈblak \
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

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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).


a state of commotion or excitement

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