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

Noun 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 But not every business is controlled by a black box of an algorithm, designed to poke, nudge, and push both drivers and riders to drive and ride more. Aarian Marshall, Wired, "Uber Changes Its Rules, and Drivers Adjust Their Strategies," 18 Feb. 2020 The prosecutor displayed photos from the day of the killings showing Pisano entering the store, turning off security cameras and carrying in a black box containing flares and two bottles filled with gasoline. USA TODAY, "Rock slides wreak havoc, close encounters with great white shark, gray whale: News from around our 50 states," 14 Feb. 2020 The helicopter also lacked a black box recorder, something it was not required to have but another piece of key safety technology the NTSB has been urging federal aviation authorities to require for more than a decade. Washington Post, "Kobe Bryant helicopter crash underscores industry’s long-running safety struggles," 8 Feb. 2020 The host then called for the inclusion of black box recorders in helicopters. Nick Romano,, "Stephen Colbert feels 'strange connection' to Kobe Bryant: 'One I wouldn’t wish on anybody'," 29 Jan. 2020 Deep machine learning like that used by neural networks is something of a black box. Caroline Delbert, Popular Mechanics, "Why Is the Three-Body Problem Unsolvable?," 6 Nov. 2019 NBC News reports that because there was no black box, federal investigators are asking if witnesses have any photos from the crash that could help piece together what exactly happened. Essence, "Kirk Franklin Gives Amazing Advice On How To Grieve After Kobe Bryant's Sudden Death," 28 Jan. 2020 That something is the black box here because UAB won’t say how much INTO is being paid to run the program. al, "UAB’s black box: University hides what it pays vendor," 10 Jan. 2020 Why some melanomas turn fatally metastatic and others sit still has always been a black box. Sharon Begley, STAT, "New study in mice points to why melanoma spreads — and perhaps how to prevent metastasis," 18 Dec. 2019

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

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The first known use of black box was circa 1945

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Cite this Entry

“Black box.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 Feb. 2020.

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

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