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

Definition of blackface

1 : dark makeup worn to mimic the appearance of a Black person and especially to mock or ridicule Black people

Note: The wearing of blackface by white performers was, from the early 19th through the mid-20th centuries, a prominent feature of minstrel shows (see minstrel sense 3a) and similar forms of entertainment featuring exaggerated and inaccurate caricatures of Black people. The use of blackface is considered deeply offensive.

2 plural blackfaces : a performer wearing blackface : minstrel sense 3a

Examples of blackface in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Yet in this instance, the white Olivier wore blackface. Charles Hilu, National Review, 15 Oct. 2021 The Newberg Graphic newspaper reported that the staff member at Mabel Rush Elementary School called herself Rosa Parks and wore blackface in protest of a districtwide COVID-19 vaccine mandate for employees. Christine Fernando, USA TODAY, 21 Sep. 2021 The employee of Mabel Rush Elementary School wore the blackface to evoke the memory of civil rights icon Rosa Parks and protest a vaccination mandate for all public school employees in Oregon, the Newberg Graphic newspaper reported. NBC News, 20 Sep. 2021 Some have singled out Hough, who once wore blackface for a 2013 Halloween party, as perhaps not the best person to judge a group of progressive activists. James Hibberd, Billboard, 15 Sep. 2021 The Museum of Modern Art found some footage in their own archives a few years ago, featuring Bert Williams, the vaudevillian who wore blackface. Los Angeles Times, 7 Sep. 2021 Our characters are confronted at every turn by white Europeans in blackface, as part of a Christmas celebration that comes very rapidly to look and feel like a society-wide parade of mockery. Daniel D'addario, Variety, 19 Mar. 2022 The only exception: a few weeks after the 2019 blackface scandal that nearly caused former governor Ralph Northam (D) to resign. Washington Post, 21 Feb. 2022 Virginia's outgoing Democratic governor, Ralph Northam, faced multiple calls for his resignation following a blackface scandal in 2019, with Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., demanding Northam step down. Tyler O'neil, Fox News, 10 Jan. 2022 See More

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.

First Known Use of blackface

1847, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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The first known use of blackface was in 1847

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Dictionary Entries Near blackface

black-eyed Susan



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Last Updated

16 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Blackface.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 May. 2022.

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