black-mar·​ket | \ˈblak-ˈmär-kət \
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 \ noun
black marketeering \ˈblak-​ˌmär-​kə-​ˈtir-​iŋ \ noun

Examples of black-market in a Sentence


The black market in prescription drugs is thriving. They unloaded the stolen goods on the black market.

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Canada is now the largest country to legalize the recreational use of marijuana, the WSJ’s Paul Vieira reports, but a patchwork of regulations and a shortage of legal supply means the black market won’t likely disappear anytime soon. Paul Page, WSJ, "Today’s Logistics Report: Uber’s Loaded Trailers; Seeking Packages; ‘Self-Declared’ Postal Rates," 18 Oct. 2018 According to accounts from various advocacy groups and asylum seekers, the impact ranges from people switching to black market jobs that pay them in cash to more women entering prostitution. Caron Creighton, Fox News, "African migrants reel as Israeli law cuts into salaries," 15 Aug. 2018 The easiest way to eliminate the college-basketball black market would be to let schools pay players their true value, but for now that remains about as likely as a 16-seed winning the NCAA Tournament. Alex Putterman, The Atlantic, "The NCAA Is Facing a Crossroads," 22 Mar. 2018 Middle class women went looking for pills on the black market. Hayley Krischer, Marie Claire, "How Heroin Came for Middle-Class Moms," 20 Aug. 2018 Basically, Burberry is opting to destroy its products in an effort to protect its exclusivity, especially since the brand has been a favorite of counterfeiters on the black market. Mekita Rivas, Teen Vogue, "Burberry Reportedly Admits to Burning $36 Million of Product in the Past Year," 19 July 2018 Sticker Shock Shortages are driving Zimbabweans to buy certain goods on the black market at much higher prices, while businesses charge more for those paying by card. Gabriele Steinhauser, WSJ, "In Zimbabwe, Skyrocketing Prices Evoke Painful Memories," 12 Nov. 2018 In his telling, websites like DolarToday, which publish the black market bolivar-dollar exchange rate, are undermining the currency. Jim Wyss, miamiherald, "Venezuela's currency is worth so little that artisans are making purses out it," 20 June 2018 Puerto Rico had fuel after Maria, but no easy way to get it to people, leading to endless lines at gas stations and a black market for diesel sales. Frances Robles, New York Times, "FEMA Was Sorely Unprepared for Puerto Rico Hurricane, Report Says," 12 July 2018

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

The first known use of black-market was in 1727

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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

Comments on black-market

What made you want to look up black-market? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a knickknack or trinket

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