black·​out | \ ˈblak-ˌau̇t How to pronounce blackout (audio) \

Definition of blackout

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : a turning off of the stage lighting to separate scenes in a play or end a play or skit also : a skit that ends with a blackout
b : a period of darkness enforced as a precaution against air raids
c : a period of darkness (as in a city) caused by a failure of electrical power
2 : a transient dulling or loss of vision, consciousness, or memory an alcoholic blackout
3a : a wiping out : obliteration
b : a blotting out by censorship : suppression a news blackout
4 : a usually temporary loss of a radio signal
5 : the prohibition or restriction of the telecasting of a sports event
6 : a time during which a special commercial offer (as of tickets) is not valid usually used attributivelyblackout dates

black out

blacked out; blacking out; blacks out

Definition of black out (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1a : blot out, erase blacked out the event from his mind
b : to suppress by censorship black out the news
2 : to envelop in darkness black out the stage
3 : to make inoperative (as by a power failure)
4 : to impose a blackout on blacked out the local game

intransitive verb

1 : to become enveloped in darkness
2 : to undergo a temporary loss of vision, consciousness, or memory

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Examples of blackout in a Sentence

Noun the blackouts of World War II She keeps flashlights and candles handy in case of a blackout. He told his doctor he had been experiencing blackouts. Verb had spent most of her adulthood trying to black out memories of a wretched childhood with the delivery of the knockout punch, the screen blacks out, and in the next scene the boxer wakes up in the hospital
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun On one of my first weekends back in New York, the city experienced street flooding and a power blackout. Dionne Searcey, New York Times, "How I Tried to Ditch Africa’s Tropes," 7 Mar. 2020 In 2003, a citywide blackout had residents temporarily convinced that another terror attack was under way. Time, "Mike Bloomberg Wants to Fix America. But Can He Fix the Democrats?," 2 Mar. 2020 India tightened its grip on Kashmir by imposing a media blackout and jailing political dissenters. Courtney Subramanian, USA TODAY, "Trump defends Modi but doesn't take position on controversial Indian citizenship law," 25 Feb. 2020 The researchers cited a storm in 1989 that caused a major power blackout in Quebec. Ashley Strickland, CNN, "First detailed images of a turbulent surface of the sun, thanks to new telescope," 29 Jan. 2020 The case is the source of considerable controversy since the first judges who oversaw the matter mandated a near-total information blackout through sweeping gag orders and the sealing of files. Josh Margolin, ABC News, "Prosecutors have 'mountain of evidence' against friend accused of killing Arkansas state Sen. Linda Collins-Smith," 28 Feb. 2020 Hack into enough smart water heaters and you can send a city into a massive blackout. Arielle Pardes, Wired, "The WIRED Guide to the Internet of Things," 10 Feb. 2020 That’s nearly $10 billion a week if the level of blackouts now enforced in India continues. Daniel Wolfe, Quartz, "Internet shutdowns are an increasingly popular means of government suppression," 24 Dec. 2019 The California Public Utilities Commission is launching the inquiry into whether utilities are meeting new rules for advance warnings of blackouts and other parameters. Peter Behr, Scientific American, "California Investigates Blackouts as New Fires Flare," 29 Oct. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb According to Indiewire, a woman blacked out during a screening during one particularly fraught scene. Anne Cohen,, "Haley Bennett’s Powerful Swallow Is Already Making People Faint," 6 Mar. 2020 As her teammate assured Richards the ambulance was on its way, Richards blacked out again. Dana Hunsinger Benbow, Indianapolis Star, "An elite athlete vanished: 20 years ago, Indy HS gymnast became a quadriplegic," 18 Feb. 2020 The hospital blacked out the names of patients and doctors and other identifying information before providing it to Burke’s counsel in the wrongful termination case., "Double-booked surgeries raised concerns at Mass. General, records indicate - The Boston Globe," 24 Nov. 2019 The release of the full Sandoval warrant — earlier made public by Senate President John Cullerton with the specific names and entities blacked out — caused immediate fallout in Springfield. Dan Petrella,, "Feds eying who’s who of political power players in raid on state Sen. Martin Sandoval’s offices," 10 Oct. 2019 The windows were blacked out, and Huseman warned non-team members that anyone entering the room would be punished, according to one of the people. Bloomberg Wire, Dallas News, "Behind Amazon’s HQ2 fiasco, Jeff Bezos wanted incentives like Elon Musk’s," 3 Feb. 2020 Last summer, the stations were blacked out from AT&T U-verse and DirecTV lineups as the previous owner, Nexstar Media Group, also struggled to reach an agreement. Holly V. Hays, Indianapolis Star, "AT&T U-verse and DirecTV customers could lose WISH-TV and MyINDY at midnight. Here's why.," 31 Jan. 2020 The Indian region of Kashmir has had most Internet service blacked out since August. Timothy B. Lee, Ars Technica, "Indian Supreme Court finds 150-day Internet blackout in Kashmir illegal," 10 Jan. 2020 Stagnant negotiations between broadcasters and pay-TV services over the last several weeks pushed the total number of channels blacked out to 230, surpassing the 2017's record of 213, according to a release from the American Television Alliance. Dallas News, "Why AT&T DirecTV customers may not get CBS and other blacked-out channels back anytime soon," 23 July 2019

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


1913, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1824, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a

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Time Traveler for blackout

Time Traveler

The first known use of blackout was in 1824

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Statistics for blackout

Last Updated

17 Mar 2020

Cite this Entry

“Blackout.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 30 Mar. 2020.

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More Definitions for blackout


How to pronounce black out (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of blackout

: a period when lights are kept off or are hidden from view to guard against enemy airplane attack in a war
: a period when lights are off because of an electrical power failure
: a sudden and temporary loss of consciousness, vision, or memory


black·​out | \ ˈblak-ˌau̇t How to pronounce blackout (audio) \

Kids Definition of blackout

1 : a period of darkness enforced as a protection against enemy attack by airplanes during a war
2 : a period of darkness caused by power failure
3 : a temporary loss of vision or consciousness


black·​out | \ ˈblak-ˌau̇t How to pronounce blackout (audio) \

Medical Definition of blackout

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a transient dulling or loss of vision, consciousness, or memory an alcoholic blackout — compare grayout, redout
\ (ˈ)blak-ˈau̇t How to pronounce black out (audio) \

Medical Definition of black out (Entry 2 of 2)

: to undergo a temporary loss of vision, consciousness, or memory (as from temporary impairment of cerebral circulation, retinal anoxia, a traumatic emotional blow, or an alcoholic binge) — compare gray out, red out

transitive verb

: to cause to black out

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More from Merriam-Webster on blackout

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for blackout

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with blackout

Spanish Central: Translation of blackout

Nglish: Translation of blackout for Spanish Speakers Encyclopedia article about blackout

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