black box


Definition of black box

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a usually complicated electronic device whose internal mechanism is usually hidden from or mysterious to the user broadly : anything that has mysterious or unknown internal functions or mechanisms
2 : a crashworthy device in aircraft for recording cockpit conversations and flight data
3 : a device in an automobile that records information (such as speed, temperature, or gasoline efficiency) which can be used to monitor vehicle performance or determine a cause in the event of an accident

black box


Definition of black box (Entry 2 of 2)

: being or containing a warning of a serious or life-threatening side effect (such as stroke or muscle damage) that is highlighted by a black border on a prescription drug's label or accompanying literature

Examples of black box in a Sentence


The black boxes were recovered from the crash site and provided useful information about the cause of the crash.

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Investigators in Europe will examine the Ethiopia Airline's flight recorder and voice data black boxes in the coming days, in an effort to determine if the two disasters are linked by a common flaw. Sam Blum, Popular Mechanics, "The United States Grounds All Boeing 737 Max 8 And 9 Jets," 13 Mar. 2019 Some were simple, such as a black box leather version made of a single piece with a chalk-like trompe l’oeil outline. Vogue, "Garçon! Olivier Saillard Steps Into the Role of Waiter-Poet for J.M. Weston," 16 Jan. 2019 Anupam Datta, a computer scientist at Carnegie Mellon University, in Pittsburgh, for instance, is not attempting to peer inside the black box directly, in the ways that Dr Darrell and Dr Riedl are. The Economist, "AI in societyFor artificial intelligence to thrive, it must explain itself," 15 Feb. 2018 Chief investigator Kok Soo Chon said the cause of the disappearance cannot be determined until the wreckage and the plane’s black boxes are found. Eileen Ng, The Seattle Times, "Investigators can’t rule out ‘interference’ in loss of MH370," 30 July 2018 Visitors to the black box theater will encounter a large single-screen projection, with the actors alternating first-person accounts of harrowing experiences escaping Syria or fighting as a child soldier in Angola. New York Times, "New Triennial Offers Artists the Canvas of Cleveland," 11 July 2018 The existing west gym would be repurposed as a black box theater, and a new swimming pool capable of hosting diving and swimming at the same time would be constructed on the lower level. Steve Schering,, "Imagine OPRF unveils three renovation proposals; cost estimates not yet available," 22 May 2018 But one of the main reasons that black box royalties accumulate is that many DIY artists don't think of themselves as business owners and instead focus on being an artist. Ed Christman, Billboard, "Black Box Royalties Myths, Common Misconceptions Debunked at Music Biz 2018," 15 May 2018 In a report issued last fall, AI Now went so far as to recommend that no public agencies responsible for such matters as criminal justice, health care, welfare and education should use black box AI systems. Randy Rieland, Smithsonian, "Artificial Intelligence Is Now Used to Predict Crime. But Is It Biased?," 6 Mar. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'black box.' 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 box


circa 1945, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1968, in the meaning defined above

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Time Traveler for black box

The first known use of black box was circa 1945

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More Definitions for black box

black box


English Language Learners Definition of black box

: a device used in an airplane to record flight information (such as altitude or airspeed) or the voices of the pilots and crew

black box


Medical Definition of black box

: being or containing a warning of a serious or life-threatening side effect (as stroke, muscle damage, or suicidal tendencies) that is highlighted by a black border on a prescription drug's label or accompanying literature A “black box” warning is the most serious warning placed in the labeling of a prescription medication.— Johnathan D. Rockoff, The Fort Worth (Texas) Star-Telegram, 8 June 2007

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Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with black box

Spanish Central: Translation of black box Encyclopedia article about black box

Comments on black box

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


grandiloquent, ostentatious, or bombastic

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