black-mar·​ket | \ ˈblak-ˈmär-kət How to pronounce black-market (audio) \
black-marketed; black-marketing; black-markets

Definition of black-market

 (Entry 1 of 2)

intransitive verb

: to buy or sell goods in the black market

transitive verb

: to sell in the black market

black market


Definition of black market (Entry 2 of 2)

: illicit trade in goods or commodities in violation of official regulations also : a place where such trade is carried on

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Other Words from black-market


black marketer or black marketeer \ ˈblak-​ˌmär-​kə-​ˈtir How to pronounce black marketeer (audio) \ noun
black marketeering \ ˈblak-​ˌmär-​kə-​ˈtir-​iŋ How to pronounce black marketeering (audio) \ noun

Examples of black-market in a Sentence

Noun The black market in prescription drugs is thriving. They unloaded the stolen goods on the black market.
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun That has already weakened the connection between the dollar and the Lebanese pound, whose value has declined on the black market, and undermined confidence in the banks. Ben Hubbard, New York Times, "Economic Crisis Looms as Protests Rage in Lebanon," 15 Nov. 2019 Authorities said the plants were essentially cannabis worth about $1 billion on the black market., "News of the Day From Across the Nation, Nov. 4," 3 Nov. 2019 The turtles were worth $200,000 on the black market. Alaa Elassar, CNN, "Florida authorities bust trafficking ring smuggling thousands of native turtles," 19 Oct. 2019 Fentanyl has been found added to heroin sold on the black market and has on occasion been found in counterfeit pharmaceutical pills, such as pills made to look indistinguishable from prescription Xanax medication. Jon Kelvey,, "Carroll County Health Department issues drug overdose alert Friday morning," 18 Oct. 2019 Industry experts said many THC products on the black market come from distributors who buy empty cartridges, fill them with THC mixtures, and then purchase packaging with those brand labels. Laurie Mcginley, The Denver Post, "Most vaping-related lung injuries linked to marijuana products, CDC says," 27 Sep. 2019 Health officials worry the tax could drive patients to seek out opioids on the black market. Anastassia Gliadkovskaya, Fortune, "New York State Drew Up a Tax to Punish Opioid Makers—But Found Some Unanticipated Side Effects," 16 Sep. 2019 Andariel was accused of hacking automatic teller machines to withdraw cash or to steal customer data to sell on the black market. Washington Post, "U.S. imposes sanctions on North Korean hackers accused in Sony attack, dozens of other incidents," 13 Sep. 2019 Water access is emerging as a lead cause of regional conflict, especially as scarce water falls under the control of rogue black markets. Emily Atkin, The New Republic, "The Blood-Dimmed Tide," 16 Sep. 2019

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


1727, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense


1931, in the meaning defined above

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Time Traveler for black-market

Time Traveler

The first known use of black-market was in 1727

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Statistics for black-market

Last Updated

31 Oct 2019

Cite this Entry

“Black-market.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 5 December 2019.

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More Definitions for black-market

black market


Financial Definition of black market

What It Is

A black market is the illegal purchase and sale of goods and services.

How It Works

Drug dealing is one of the most prominent black markets in the United States. In this black market, people buy and sell drugs knowing that such activity is usually illegal and that possessing the products themselves is usually illegal. Regardless, the demand for drugs is high enough to trump the law, though people usually attempt to conceal their participation.

Many black markets exist beyond drugs, however, and though the products or services may be legal, the manner in which they are bought and sold may be illegal. For example, it is legal to have a cleaning lady, but it is illegal to hire a cleaning lady who is not in the United States legally.

Because regulatory constraints may increase the price of some goods and services, in some cases regulation can actually prompt the development of black markets. This was particularly the case in the early 1900s, when the United States outlawed alcohol, which created a massive black market for the production, transportation and sale of liquor.

Why It Matters

The presence of black markets all over the world is evidence that the laws of supply and demand are virtually impossible to defy. When regulation or taxation becomes too high, when supply and demand are way out of balance, or when competition has been too restricted, people will always look for a way to get goods or services cheaper, faster or more easily.

Source: Investing Answers

black market


English Language Learners Definition of black market

: a system through which things are bought and sold illegally

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