\ ˈblak How to pronounce black (audio) \

Definition of black

 (Entry 1 of 6)

1a : of the color black (see black entry 2 sense 2) a black sweater a black dog as black as coal
b(1) : very dark in color his face was black with rage
(2) : having a very deep or low register (see register entry 1 sense 4b) a bass with a black voice
(3) : heavy, serious the play was a black intrigue
2a : having dark skin, hair, and eyes : swarthy the black Irish

b or Black

(1) : of or relating to any of various population groups having dark pigmentation of the skin black Americans
(2) : of or relating to African American people or their culture black literature a black college Black pride Black studies
(3) : typical or representative of the most readily perceived characteristics of black culture trying to sound black
3 : dressed in black (see black entry 2 sense 2) playing for the black team
4 : dirty, soiled hands black with grime
5a : characterized by the absence of light a black night
b : reflecting or transmitting little or no light black water
c : served without milk or cream black coffee
6a old-fashioned + literary : thoroughly sinister or evil : wicked When the King heard of this black deed, in his grief and rage he denounced relentless war against his Barons …— Charles Dickens
b : indicative of condemnation or discredit got a black mark for being late
7 : connected with or invoking the supernatural and especially the devil black magic the black arts
8a : very sad, gloomy, or calamitous black despair
b : marked by the occurrence of disaster black Friday
9 : characterized by hostility or angry discontent : sullen black resentment filled his heart
10 chiefly British : subject to boycott by trade-union members as employing or favoring nonunion workers or as operating under conditions considered unfair by the trade union a ship that was declared black by the union
11a of propaganda : conducted so as to appear to originate within an enemy country and designed to weaken enemy morale Black propaganda … is the business of going to elaborate ends to spread half-true, misleading or downright false information to get your enemy in trouble.— Everett G. Martin
b : characterized by or connected with the use of black propaganda Press reports say that in addition to dropping leaflets over urban areas, messages were broadcast over two "black" radio stations, … both of which were operated by the CIA.Strategic Intelligence
12 : characterized by grim, distorted, or grotesque satire black humor
13 : of or relating to covert intelligence operations black government programs



Definition of black (Entry 2 of 6)

1 : a pigment or dye of the color black : a black pigment or dye especially : one consisting largely of carbon
2 : the achromatic (see achromatic sense 3) color of least lightness characteristically perceived to belong to objects that neither reflect nor transmit light walls painted in black
3 : something that is black: such as
a : black clothing looks good in black
b : a black animal (such as a horse)
c baseball : the narrow, black edge of home plate a pitch on the black [=a pitch that crosses over the very edge of home plate]
4a : a person belonging to any of various population groups having dark pigmentation of the skin
b : african american a position supported by both blacks and whites blacks and other people of color
5 in board games : the pieces of a dark color in a board game for two players (such as chess) black moves second
6 : total or nearly total absence of light the black of night
7 : the condition of making a profit usually used with the operating in the black — compare red


blacked; blacking; blacks

Definition of black (Entry 3 of 6)

intransitive verb

: to become black (see black entry 1)

transitive verb

1 : to make black blacked his boots
2 chiefly British : to declare (something, such as a business or industry) subject to boycott by trade-union members


biographical name (1)
\ ˈblak How to pronounce Black (audio) \

Definition of Black (Entry 4 of 6)

Hugo LaFayette 1886–1971 American jurist and politician


biographical name (2)

Definition of Black (Entry 5 of 6)

Sir James Whyte 1924–2010 British pharmacologist


geographical name

Definition of Black (Entry 6 of 6)

1 river 101 miles (162 kilometers) long in east central Louisiana flowing south into the Red River
2 or in China Amo \ ˈä-​ˈmō How to pronounce Amo (audio) \ or in Vietnam Da \ ˈdä How to pronounce Da (audio) \ river 500 miles (805 kilometers) long in southeastern Asia rising in central Yunnan, China, and flowing southeast to the Red River in northern Vietnam

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Other Words from black


blackish \ ˈbla-​kish How to pronounce blackish (audio) \ adjective
blackly adverb
blackness noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for black

Synonyms: Adjective

ebony, pitch-black, pitch-dark, pitchy, raven, sable

Synonyms: Noun

blackness, candlelight, dark, darkness, dusk, gloaming, gloom, murk, night, semidarkness, shade, shadows, twilight, umbra

Antonyms: Adjective


Antonyms: Noun

blaze, brightness, brilliance, day, daylight, glare, glow, light, lightness

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Examples of black in a Sentence


a little black dress blends into the night very well


The wall was painted in black. a mixture of grays and blacks She was dressed in black.


He blacked his boots with polish. Labor union members have blacked the company.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

At his home near Kansas City, Carter Buschardt loves to sit in his living room and take in the cozy surroundings—including a view of his black ’59 Thunderbird convertible. Candace Taylor, WSJ, "The Super-Luxury Show Garage," 7 Mar. 2019 Match your friend's farmhouse with a distressed white number, or keep it classic with timeless black wood. Blair Donovan, Country Living, "Minted's Heart Snapshot Mix Photo Art Is THE Perfect Gift for Your Nearest and Dearest," 5 Mar. 2019 The researchers dressed both horses and zebras in black coats, white coats, and striped zebra coats. Avery Thompson, Popular Mechanics, "Scientists Dressed Horses as Zebras to Learn What Stripes Are For," 25 Feb. 2019 Upon assuming the reins in 1983, Lagerfeld swiftly revived Chanel, reinterpreting the house founder’s iconic tweed skirtsuits, little black dresses, and quilted handbags. Nicole Phelps, Vogue, "Legendary Designer Karl Lagerfeld Has Died," 19 Feb. 2019 Stepping out for the 5th Annual Hollywood Beauty Awards, Kim Kardashian West wore an extremely revealing black dress on the red carpet that left nothing to the imagination. Amy Mackelden, Harper's BAZAAR, "Kim Kardashian Narrowly Avoids a Wardrobe Malfunction in Vintage Thierry Mugler Cut-Out Gown," 18 Feb. 2019 The Duchess made a public visit to the London nonprofit last month wearing fierce Gianvito Rossi heels and a knit black maternity dress. Caroline Picard, Good Housekeeping, "This $20 Meghan Markle Look-Alike Dress Has Over 1,000 Rave Reviews," 11 Feb. 2019 The Duchess looked chic in a tuxedo-style black dress for that event. Maggie Maloney, Town & Country, "Meghan Markle Wore a Gown By Roland Mouret to a Charity Performance of Cirque du Soleil at Royal Albert Hall," 16 Jan. 2019 According to English, Meghan is wearing a tan trench coat by Oscar de la Renta at over £2k, earrings by Kimai, and a black dress by maternity line Hatch at £170. Katherine J. Igoe, Marie Claire, "Meghan Markle Makes a Surprise Royal Visit Today in an Oscar de la Renta Trench Coat," 10 Jan. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The black was an outlier, though; most of Hu’s dresses are bursting with color. Emily Farra, Vogue, "Caroline Hu Is Our First Discovery of NYFW—And Her Dresses Belong at the Oscars," 10 Feb. 2019 For so long, the film industry has only been able to conceive of black, brown, and Asian woman as ancillary parts to white narratives. Kyndall Cunningham, Glamour, "The Oscar Race Is All About Gaga vs. Glenn—But What About Women of Color?," 22 Jan. 2019 In parallel, the couple set out to redecorate the entire apartment, trading its earlier scheme of white-and-gray minimalism for a more textured palette of black, grays, and neutrals. Nick Sullivan, ELLE Decor, "A Snug New York Bachelor Pad Is Morphed Into a Swank and Spacious Home," 20 Nov. 2018 Color coordinated in black with pops of red and white, Eugenie wore a floral Erdem dress, and Jack sported a suit. Nicole Saunders, Harper's BAZAAR, "Princess Eugenie Celebrates the Anniversary of her Engagement to Jack Brooksbank with an Adorable Instagram Post," 23 Jan. 2019 Not to be outdone, Dell announced a 55-inch 4K Alienware monitor outfitted with a luscious OLED display for deep blacks and fantastic color reproduction. Brad Chacos, PCWorld, "6 important CES 2019 reveals and trends that PC enthusiasts need to know about," 11 Jan. 2019 While highly educated African-Americans are now more successful than ever, the bottom appears to have fallen out for poor blacks. The Economist, "The wage gap between white and black men is growing wider," 5 July 2018 The provisional number of births last year declined 2 percent for Hispanics, 3 percent for whites and was unchanged for blacks., "When It Comes To Fertility Rates, Connecticut Ranks Among The Lowest In The Country," 27 June 2018 Unemployment rates for blacks, Latinos and all Americans began a steady decline in late 2009 that has continued since Trump took office. Jim Puzzanghera,, "Trump claims credit for the strong labor market. Experts say he also should thank Obama," 26 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Reddington recalled blacking in and out as someone called 911 for help. Katherine Lam, Fox News, "Man accidentally shot by FBI agent in a Denver nightclub recalls bizarre incident," 10 June 2018 Reddington recalled blacking in and out as someone called 911 for help. Katherine Lam, Fox News, "Man accidentally shot by FBI agent in a Denver nightclub recalls bizarre incident," 10 June 2018 Reddington recalled blacking in and out as someone called 911 for help. Katherine Lam, Fox News, "Man accidentally shot by FBI agent in a Denver nightclub recalls bizarre incident," 10 June 2018 The collection is available in a range of three materials in Dell’Acqua's go-to pink and black, as well as Tod’s signature brown leather. Isabel Greenberg, Harper's BAZAAR, "Tod’s Is Launching Their First Factory Capsule Collection with Alessandro Dell’Acqua," 19 Nov. 2018 Reddington recalled blacking in and out as someone called 911 for help. Katherine Lam, Fox News, "Man accidentally shot by FBI agent in a Denver nightclub recalls bizarre incident," 10 June 2018 Reddington recalled blacking in and out as someone called 911 for help. Katherine Lam, Fox News, "Man accidentally shot by FBI agent in a Denver nightclub recalls bizarre incident," 10 June 2018 Instead, Giuliani deflects to black-on-black crime. Jeneé Osterheldt, kansascity, "Turn our anger into change," 25 Nov. 2014 In other words, will black and brown doulas be displaced? Danielle Jackson, Longreads, "A Frustrating Year of Reporting on Black Maternal Health," 14 June 2018

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


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


13th century, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense

History and Etymology for black

Adjective, Noun, and Verb

Middle English blak, from Old English blæc; akin to Old High German blah black, and probably to Latin flagrare to burn, Greek phlegein

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Statistics for black

Last Updated

11 Mar 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for black

The first known use of black was before the 12th century

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More Definitions for black



Financial Definition of black

What It Is

Black is slang for profit. Profit, also called net income, is the amount remaining after all costs, depreciation, interest, taxes, and other expenses have been deducted from total sales. Profit is also referred to as the bottom line, net profit, or net earnings. The formula for profit is:

Total Sales - Total Expenses = Profit

Note that preferred stock dividends are typically included in the traditional net income calculation, but common stock dividends are not.

How It Works

Here is some information about Company XYZ for last year:

Using the formula and the information above, we can calculate that Company XYZ's profit was:

$1,000,000 - $500,000 - $300,000 - $100,000 - $5,000 + $1,000 - $10,000 - $10,000 = $76,000

This means that Company XYZ made $76,000 of profit last year. It was “in the black.”

Why It Matters

Philosophically speaking, being in the black is what motivates industry, entrepreneurship, and innovation. It is the very thing that enables people to feed themselves, clothe their families, create jobs, and set money aside for the future. It is not a vice, but rather an incentive to dream, take risks, and try harder. As Adam Smith, the founder of modern economics, put it, "It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker, that we can expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest.”

In the retail industry, companies often don’t become profitable until the fourth quarter, when Christmas shopping begins. This is the source of the term “Black Friday.”

Source: Investing Answers



English Language Learners Definition of black

 (Entry 1 of 3)

: having the very dark color of coal or the night sky
: very dark because there is no light
: of or relating to a race of people who have dark skin and who come originally from Africa



English Language Learners Definition of black (Entry 2 of 3)

: the dark color of coal or the night sky
: black clothing
: a person belonging to a race of people who have dark skin : a black person



English Language Learners Definition of black (Entry 3 of 3)

old-fashioned + literary : to make (something) black
British : to refuse to work for or with (a business, employer, etc.) or to buy (goods, services, etc.)


\ ˈblak How to pronounce black (audio) \
blacker; blackest

Kids Definition of black

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1 : of the color of coal : colored black
2 : very dark a black night
3 often capitalized : of or relating to any peoples having dark skin and especially any of the original peoples of Africa south of the Sahara
4 : of or relating to Americans having ancestors from Africa south of the Sahara
5 : wicked sense 1 a black deed
6 : very sad or gloomy in a black mood
7 : unfriendly sense 1 a black look

Other Words from black

blackish adjective
blackness noun



Kids Definition of black (Entry 2 of 3)

1 : the color of coal : the opposite of white
2 : black clothing He is dressed in black.
3 : a person belonging to a race of people having dark skin
4 : an American having black African ancestors : african-american
5 : total or near total darkness the black of night
6 : the condition of making a profit The company is in the black.


blacked; blacking

Kids Definition of black (Entry 3 of 3)

black out
: to lose consciousness or the ability to see for a short time

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More from Merriam-Webster on black

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with black

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for black

Spanish Central: Translation of black

Nglish: Translation of black for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of black for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about black

Comments on black

What made you want to look up black? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to corrupt or become corrupted

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