black·​face | \ ˈblak-ˌfās How to pronounce blackface (audio) \

Definition of blackface

: dark makeup worn (as by a performer in a minstrel show) in a caricature of the appearance of a black person also : a performer wearing such makeup

Note: The wearing of blackface by white performers was, from the early 19th through the mid-20th centuries, a prominent feature of minstrel shows and similar forms of entertainment featuring exaggerated and inaccurate caricatures of black people. Its modern occurrence in imitation of such performers is considered deeply offensive.

Examples of blackface in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

The new initiative comes after the brand received backlash over a balaclava sweater resembling blackface last month. Lauren Alexis Fisher, Harper's BAZAAR, "Gucci Announces Changemakers Program to Improve Diversity and Inclusion," 18 Mar. 2019 Thomas Carter, a black Detroit barber, says there’s nothing funny about blackface. Monica Rhor, USA TODAY, "'Deeply offensive' blackface video of California high school student sparks backlash," 8 Feb. 2019 Now, the latest gala has caused an international outcry by featuring a Chinese actress in blackface with huge prosthetic buttocks representing an African woman. Adam Taylor, Washington Post, "China’s televised New Year’s Gala featured a blackface skit about Africans," 16 Feb. 2018 On Tuesday, Megyn Kelly appeared to defend blackface in a conversation on her NBC show about inappropriate or offensive Halloween costumes. Eileen Reslen, Town & Country, "Megyn Kelly's Most Controversial Moments Ever," 26 Oct. 2018 Without any evidence of that effort, there’s no reason to believe that people who wore blackface or Klan costumes in their 20s are better now. WSJ, "Dissecting the College Scandal," 12 Feb. 2019 This year, demonstrators protesting the parade faced off with neo-Nazis who want the holiday tradition to remain as is, blackface and all. Nadra Nittle, Vox, "Prada pulled a collection of figurines that drew comparisons to anti-black caricatures," 14 Dec. 2018 Photographer David Leyes says the blackface photo shoot was Drake’s idea. Morgan Enos, Billboard, "Everything We Know About the Drake Blackface Photo Pusha-T Used For 'The Story of Adidon' Cover Art," 30 May 2018 That was before a spate of incidents, including photos that circulated on social media showing a male student wearing blackface and fraternity members dressed as gang members. Benjamin Oreskes,, "Essential California: Racism at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo," 25 Apr. 2018

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

1847, in the meaning defined above

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Last Updated

15 Jun 2019

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Time Traveler for blackface

The first known use of blackface was in 1847

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More from Merriam-Webster on blackface

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with blackface Encyclopedia article about blackface

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behavior toward others

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