\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

Worth noting for Dota 2 diehards: heroes are now split into four color categories (red, blue, green, black) instead of the three categories in the original Dota 2 game (red/strength, blue/intelligence, green/agility). Sam Machkovech, Ars Technica, "Artifact beta: Learn how to play Valve’s first card game… and how to pay," 17 Nov. 2018 These wines are light bodied but have lots of character: brambly red and black fruits, baking spices and a soft texture unique to this region. Laura Giannatempo, Condé Nast Traveler, "The Best Wine to Pair With Turkey, According to Wine Experts," 15 Nov. 2018 Jasmin has box colored her hair black, red, and brown '7 or 8 times' and has coarse, straight, level 2 hair. Marci Robin, Allure, "This Super-Long Ombré Hair Transformation Is a Feat of Color-Correction Magic," 13 Nov. 2018 These braided together have lead to the marginalization of native, black, and brown communities, generation after generation. Rachel Elizabeth Cargle, Harper's BAZAAR, "Megyn Kelly's "Blackface" Comments Reveal a Larger Truth About Appropriation," 30 Oct. 2018 With a rich buttercream frosting and candy decorations, this black cat dessert is scary delicious. Woman's Day Kitchen, Woman's Day, "Halloween Cat Cake," 2 Oct. 2018 Both women wore elegant all black for the celebration. Stacey Leasca, Glamour, "Meghan Markle and Kate Middleton Honored Veterans Together for Remembrance Day," 11 Nov. 2018 As part of the experience, the company set them up with a mountain guide, who helped them enjoy the park’s major draws, including its extensive glaciers, and wildlife like Dall sheep, black and grizzly bears, bison, goats, wolves, and moose. Corina Quinn, Condé Nast Traveler, "'This Is Us’ Actor Justin Hartley Will Convince You to Go Camp in Remote Alaska," 1 Nov. 2018 It's painted in a black-and-white checkered pattern. Alyssa Fiorentino, House Beautiful, "The Fertility Vase Of The Ndebele Tribe In Mean Girls Was Actually Really Chic," 3 Oct. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Both are sleekly clad in black and have a contrasting light pine interior that seems to be the company’s calling card. Liz Stinson, Curbed, "Ultra-stylish tiny house comes with fold-down deck," 9 Nov. 2018 By some estimates, one in five Americans has unpaid medical debt, and more than half of blacks and Latinos have medical debt on their credit cards. Nadra Nittle, Vox, "Spend “frivolously” and be penalized under China’s new social credit system," 2 Nov. 2018 Like other convertibles, the C930 suffers from huge-chin syndrome featuring a one-inch-wide bezel underneath its display while the side and top bezels are mere slivers of black. Valentina Palladino, Ars Technica, "Lenovo Yoga C930 2-in-1 review: Hidden features in all the right places," 26 Oct. 2018 The poll shows a 25 percentage point increase in the proportion of blacks with a favorable view of gun ownership. Robert Gearty, Fox News, "New study finds growing demand for concealed handgun permits," 18 Aug. 2018 The crowd is mostly Golden Knights fans, with Caps fans (several of whom tell me Vegas fans have been very friendly to them so far) in red dotted amid the ocean of black and gold. Charlotte Wilder,, "The Stanley Cup Final Display is for Vegas Locals and Game 1 Gave Them Ultimate Show," 29 May 2018 Out of the darkened cleft of the fjord, three outriggers soon emerge, propelled by local Korafe women in skirts of tapa bark cloth painted with ocher, their necks hung with flowers and shells, and faces tattooed in black. Sophy Roberts, Condé Nast Traveler, "Navigating Tradition and Tourism in Papua New Guinea," 3 May 2018 Minority voting power The plaintiffs argue that the districts are drawn to dilute the voting power of blacks and Latinos by cramming them into a single district or splitting them up among several. Allie Morris, San Antonio Express-News, "Top court to take up racial question in Texas redistricting case," 22 Apr. 2018 Hadid opted for a Moschino suit in tones of red, white, and black, which paired perfectly with her design for the toy soldiers. Chloe Foussianes, Town & Country, "Supermodel Gigi Hadid Designed the New FAO Schwarz Soldier Uniforms," 25 Oct. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Reddington recalled blacking in and out as someone called 911 for help. Katherine Lam, Fox News, "Man accidentally shot by FBI agent in a Denver nightclub recalls bizarre incident," 10 June 2018 Instead, Giuliani deflects to black-on-black crime. Jeneé Osterheldt, kansascity, "Turn our anger into change," 25 Nov. 2014 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

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

2 Dec 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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More from Merriam-Webster on black

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with black

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for 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).


the figure or shape of a crescent moon

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