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

The triple-digit speeding data comes from his 2018 Mustang's event data recorder, sometimes known as the black box, just like ones in airplanes. Josh Cascio, Fox News, "Street racer was going 102 mph when he fatally hit mother and toddler," 1 June 2018 The book tells of the heroic search-and-rescue operations, the hunt for the black box, the investigations and hearings and the nature of hurricanes. New York Times, "8 New Books We Recommend This Week," 24 May 2018 Miller, who now runs a private company investigating vehicle crashes, said the collision wasn’t hard enough to trigger the cruiser’s internal recording device, or black box. Peter Hermann, Washington Post, "Police officials dispute account of officer who fatally shot motorcyclist," 12 Apr. 2018 The deputy governor of Iran's Chaharmahal and Bakhtiari province, where the plane crashed, said the plane's black box was found in the Helen Mountains in the Kiyar district, IRNA reported Monday. Isil Sariyuce And James Masters, CNN, "Mina Basaran: Turkish socialite killed in plane crash after bachelorette party," 12 Mar. 2018 But as the nickname suggests, this black box with all the dials and lights is where the stage manager oversees everything that takes place backstage. David Lyman,, "Behind the curtain: Cincinnati Opera's back at Music Hall with a more functional backstage," 7 June 2018 This technology isn’t perfect—software still hiccups, anemometers still break—but El Faro’s black box has commemorated the crew in a way nothing else could. Craig Fehrman, Outside Online, "The Long Shadow of One of Our Worst Disasters at Sea," 16 May 2018 The $200 product, called FireFly, is a small black box that allows the user to light fireworks remotely. Conner Mitchell, kansascity, "From fireworks stand to smartphone app: How a Kansas family's business keeps booming," 3 July 2018 The two black boxes recovered from last month's fiery crash of a Boeing 737-200 leased by Cuba's national airline are now in Washington D.C. where they are being analyzed at the National Transportation Safety Board's recorder lab. Mimi Whitefield, miamiherald, "Black boxes in fiery Cuban airline crash being analyzed in Washington," 7 June 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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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).


evasion of direct action or statement

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