black letter


: a heavy angular condensed typeface used especially by the earliest European printers and based on handwriting used chiefly in the 13th to 15th centuries
also : this style of handwriting

Illustration of black letter

Illustration of black letter

Word History

First Known Use

1639, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of black letter was in 1639

Dictionary Entries Near black letter

Cite this Entry

“Black letter.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 6 Dec. 2023.

Legal Definition


: having wide acceptance and great authority and often written down
black-letter law

More from Merriam-Webster on black letter

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