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 When there’s a black box, people’s imaginations can run wild. Patience Haggin, WSJ, "What Investors Learned From the First Peek Inside YouTube’s Financials," 4 Feb. 2020 But footage from an ATM that Frazee visited just after noon on Thanksgiving Day showed a large black box in the back of his red truck, an investigator from the 4th Judicial District Attorney’s Office testified. Elise Schmelzer, The Denver Post, "Kelsey Berreth murder case: Patrick Frazee’s brother — who is a Colorado police officer — takes stand in murder trial," 5 Nov. 2019 The next afternoon, White hitched a ride downtown to the EMASS office, where one of the company’s bond-compliance officers, Nick Buss, clipped a black box around his left ankle. Ava Kofman, ProPublica, "Digital Jail: How Electronic Monitoring Drives Defendants Into Debt," 3 July 2019 Saul doesn't take the duplicitous bait, instead telling Wellington about the black box findings and the little Russia problem and also reminding David what Carrie has sacrificed for the country thus far. Seija Rankin,, "Homeland recap: Ka-boom again, again," 13 Apr. 2020 In some instances, the actual algorithms used to determine who is free and who is caged are proprietary, and defendants have no way to access or challenge the black box computations that determine their fate. Nick Pinto, The New Republic, "Criminal justice reformers are rethinking the crusade against cash bail.," 6 Apr. 2020 Iran has agreed to send black boxes from the Ukrainian jet downed earlier this year to Kiev for analysis, an Iranian official said Wednesday, ending an impasse over the recordings from the aircraft. Fox News, "Iran to return downed Ukrainian jet's black boxes, official says," 12 Mar. 2020 Since the safety board can’t download information from flight recorders, usually called black boxes, investigators are relying on various other types of evidence. Andy Pasztor, WSJ, "NTSB Highlights Poor Visibility in Kobe Bryant Crash," 8 Feb. 2020 But many have accused Iran of dragging its feet, a complaint likely to be bolstered by the suggestion on Tuesday that the plane’s black boxes would be analyzed in Iran instead of being sent abroad. Ben Hubbard,, "Iran acknowledges it fired 2 missiles at Ukrainian jet," 21 Jan. 2020

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

Time Traveler

The first known use of black box was circa 1945

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Cite this Entry

“Black box.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 May. 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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Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with black box

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

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