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


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

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

But despite these efforts, countless opalized fossils are being lost to the black market, pushed out of the reach of research institutions by the highest bidder. Clare Watson, Smithsonian, "Scientists and Miners Team Up to Preserve Opalized Fossils," 1 Aug. 2019 With a background in economics, Antonio manages the money, converting funds on the black market, in fraught transactions, through WhatsApp groups. Simran Sethi, Washington Post, "Robberies, strawberries and black-market economics: How to bake a cake in Caracas," 24 July 2019 As the government cracked down on the diversion of pills to the black market, heroin and fentanyl took their place. Author: Jordan Heller, Lenny Bernstein, Anchorage Daily News, "Biggest civil trial in U.S. history will start with Ohio counties," 22 July 2019 Industry officials argued that the limits would have eliminated most of their products, and would only push demand to the black market, costing jobs and tax revenue. Robert Mccoppin,, "As Illinois determines whether to limit potency of legalized pot, drug gets increased scrutiny after link to psychosis," 6 July 2019 While car fuel at the pump in Venezuela is nearly free, shortages force logistics companies to make up the shortfall on the black market, where a gallon of gasoline costs up to $6.50, or nearly three times the average price in the United States. Anatoly Kurmanaev, New York Times, "A Fuel Shortage Is Crippling Agriculture in Venezuela," 6 July 2019 There’s nothing like a little controversy to spike prices of rare items on the black market, err, online retail resale sites. Cicero Estrella, The Mercury News, "How much are sneakerheads willing to shell out for Nikes with Betsy Ross flag?," 2 July 2019 Taxes that are too high could drive business toward the black market, which is a complaint in other states such as California. Ryan Randazzo, azcentral, "10 things to look for in a ballot measure to legalize recreational marijuana in Arizona," 29 June 2019 Then, dangerous synthetic opioids, particularly illicit fentanyl, seeped into the black market — and overdose deaths skyrocketed to 70,000 in 2017. German Lopez, Vox, "New data shows drug overdose deaths fell in 2018. But there’s a big catch.," 17 July 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

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

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marked by turns or indirection

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