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 There was, however, a black market in which people could buy choice cuts of meat, Sundin said. NBC News, "Meat rationing during WWII holds few similarities to 'shortage' of 2020," 1 May 2020 Grocery store shelves were cleared of hand sanitizer (though, according to one report, there was a limited supply at a black market pop-up on the corner of 24th Street and Potrero Avenue in the Mission District). Ryan Kost,, "‘You can hear birds’: Bay Area grows quiet as the coronavirus spreads," 12 Mar. 2020 This measure backfired, creating a lucrative black market. National Geographic, "Europe's morbid 'mummy craze' has been an obsession for centuries," 10 Dec. 2019 Statistics Canada, the census agency, estimated that last year Canadians handed over CA$5.7 billion for marijuana, with 90 percent of that going to a vast black market of dealers and underground websites. Ian Austen, The Seattle Times, "Dreams of big profits as marijuana becomes legal in Canada," 16 Oct. 2018 Daniels has populated the world of Lakeview with all sorts of strange wonders, from Nathan's talking-dog therapist to a hacker black market just outside the cyber resort's borders. Brian Truitt, USA TODAY, "How Amazon's 'poignant' and timely 'Upload' imagines a digital afterlife of the future," 1 May 2020 The Lebanese pound, long pegged at around 1,500 to the dollar, has lost three times its value since October, reaching 4,500 to the dollar on black markets this week — a steep drop from 3,000 just two weeks ago. Washington Post, "Unrest escalates in Lebanon as currency collapses and prospect of hunger grows," 28 Apr. 2020 Other critics say the cards could lead to job discrimination, a black market for immunity passports, or people intentionally trying to become infected with the coronavirus in order to recover and be allowed return to work. Jessica Puckett, Condé Nast Traveler, "Could Airlines Require Immunity Passports for Travelers to Fly Again?," 23 Apr. 2020 The fear is that people may attempt to purchase the drug on the black market or attempt to take a version of it that is prescribed for pets for the prevention of heartworm disease and to treat parasites. Frank Witsil, Detroit Free Press, "Michigan warns residents: Don't take pet's heartworm medicine to treat coronavirus," 16 Apr. 2020

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

24 Apr 2020

Cite this Entry

“Black-market.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 29 May. 2020.

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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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