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

The pound was trading at 660 to the dollar after reaching 690 pounds to $1 on the black market last week — lows never reached before. Washington Post, "Syrian pound hits record low, setting off hike in prices," 12 Sep. 2019 And on the black market, the liquid can contain a combination of marijuana and nicotine. Christine Sexton,, "Vaping-linked lung problems surfacing in Florida," 10 Sep. 2019 Officials said adults should not buy products on the street or on the black market, and should not modify or add any substances to the products. Josh Kovner,, "Vaping crisis: Connecticut health officials have identified 5 patients with serious lung disease after using e-cigarettes," 6 Sep. 2019 To the dismay of the state, tombaroli, or tomb robbers, have often beaten archaeologists to sites of importance, with a large number of artefacts ending up on the black market. E.o’k. | Lazio, The Economist, "The enduring influence of the Etruscans on Italian culture," 20 Aug. 2019 In the last quarter of 2018, 79% of transactions were done on the black market, according to Statistics Canada. Amanda Shendruk, Quartz, "Canadians continue to buy cannabis illegally," 18 Aug. 2019 After that, the meds can treat legitimate needs, feed addictions or get sold on the black market., "Oregon pharmacists sold millions of opioid pills, say they felt powerless to say no," 16 Aug. 2019 As a result, a barter system continued to flourish and the black market, with its highly inflated prices, continued to encourage defiance of the law. Nan Randall, The Atlantic, "'Charlottesville': A Government-Commissioned Story About Nuclear War," 25 Jan. 2018 Efforts to cut off people who are addicted risk sending them onto the black market for supplies. The Economist, "Legal settlements alone will not solve America’s opioid crisis," 31 Aug. 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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Statistics for black-market

Last Updated

12 Sep 2019

Look-up Popularity

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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miscellaneous remnants or debris

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