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black-mar·​ket ˈblak-ˈmär-kət How to pronounce black-market (audio)
black-marketed; black-marketing; black-markets

intransitive verb

: to buy or sell goods in the black market

transitive verb

: to sell in the black market
black marketer noun
or black marketeer
black marketeering noun

black market

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: illicit trade in goods or commodities in violation of official regulations
also : a place where such trade is carried on

Example Sentences

Noun The black market in prescription drugs is thriving. They unloaded the stolen goods on the black market.
Recent Examples on the Web
Densley, the college professor, said the increase in such shootings comes as record gun sales during the pandemic have placed more firearms into circulation, some of which are lost, stolen or sold and otherwise end up on the black market. Los Angeles Times, 24 Jan. 2023 Foreign-exchange restrictions in many African countries also mean that dollars are often inaccessible to ordinary savers except at a hefty premium on the black market, making cryptocurrencies an enticing alternative. Alexandra Wexler, WSJ, 18 Jan. 2023 While ordinary people are now saved the expense of constant PCR tests, many are scrambling to buy antiviral medication on the black market, pay for hospital beds, or afford inflated crematorium costs to bury relatives. Time, 17 Jan. 2023 Some people who can’t afford insulin take smaller doses than prescribed or buy it on the black market. Marissa Evansstaff Writer, Los Angeles Times, 12 Jan. 2023 The World Health Organization estimates that up to 10 percent of transplant organs are procured on the black market. WIRED, 5 Jan. 2023 Research has found that the packaging of some edible products, especially those available on the black market, looks nearly identical to the real thing. Jen Christensen, CNN, 3 Jan. 2023 Goldstein estimates that two-thirds of the marijuana sold in California moves on the black market even now, nearly five years after recreational stores came on the scene. Rachel Lerman, Washington Post, 30 Dec. 2022 To his credit, he's set more rules for what can be sold on his black market than Cazes ever did, banning the sale of fentanyl and ransomware tools, for instance. Wired Staff, WIRED, 26 Dec. 2022 See More

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.

Word History

First Known Use


1727, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense


1931, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of black-market was in 1727

Dictionary Entries Near black-market

black mark


black market

Cite this Entry

“Black-market.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 6 Feb. 2023.

Kids Definition

black market

: trade that is against government controls (as of prices or rationing)
also : the place where such trade is carried on
black marketer
or black marketeer

More from Merriam-Webster on black-market

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